Their bond has been shaped by the most horrific of circumstances, yet both families have grown close, brought together by the killings of their respective 17-year-old sons as well as the sense of unspeakable loss they experienced and the frenzy of media attention that followed.
That has been especially true of the two fathers – Tracy Martin and Ronald Davis – who say they well understand the circumstances of the other, often without having to put their feelings into words. The loss of their sons, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and the circumstances of their deaths offers each a distinctive perspective of the other, they say.
“We have been in touch with each other for more than a year and half and we have become close,” said Martin, the father of unarmed Trayvon Martin, in an interview with BET.com.
“We each have losses,” Martin said. “We reached out and we have talked and become good friends. Unfortunately, we met in the worst circumstances. But we both understand that we share a common goal. Our mission is to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Both men are severely disappointed with the verdicts in the cases concerning the deaths of their sons. George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder by a jury in Sanford, Florida, last summer. And just two weeks ago, a judge called a mistrial in the first-degree murder charges against Michael Dunn in the killing of Jordan Davis.
However, Dunn was found guilty of three counts of attempted murder and is likely to face up to 60 years in prison.
Davis said he nonetheless wants to see a conviction of Dunn on first-degree murder charges, something prosecutors insist they will pursue. That desire to see justice for his son, he said, would also represent justice for Trayvon.
“I look at justice for Jordan as justice for Trayvon, too,” Davis said, speaking with BET.com. “There is a commonality here between these two cases and we both recognize it.”
In fact, the two sets of parents are planning to appear together at a rally on March 10 in the Florida capitol of Tallahassee to protest the state’s controversial "Stand Your Ground" law. Under that law, a person is allowed to use deadly force if he or she feels imperiled. Neither George Zimmerman nor Michael Dunn invoked that law, but it figured prominently in the discussion of their legal options before their trials.
“I believe we want to see the lives of young Black and brown kids valued as much as anyone else’s," Martin said. "We don’t want to see a country where people believe that you can kill young Black and brown kids and think it’s okay. I think we would both agree on that."
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Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan
(Photos from left: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images, AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Pool)