With the exception of clicking camera shutters, everything came to a halt when Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, the parents of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, entered a House hearing room where Capitol Hill lawmakers held a briefing on racial profiling and “Stand Your Ground” laws. The question of whether they’d speak was answered when each offered thanks for the overwhelming national support they’ve received in recent weeks.
“As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon is your son,” Fulton said. “A lot of people can relate to our situation, and it breaks their heart just as it breaks mine.”
Florida Reps. Corrine Brown and Frederica Wilson each addressed the Sanford Police Department’s unwillingness to investigate the shooting immediately after it occurred and the fact that no arrest has yet been made. They also vowed to not rest until the teen receives the justice they believe he deserves, including a thorough investigation of the Sanford police.
“I will not stop beating this drum until we have justice for Trayvon,” Wilson said. ”I am tired of burying young Black boys. I have buried too many, cried too many tears, attended too many funerals, and it is unnecessary,” she said.
The case, she added, has been laced with “racial profiling, lies and murder” and admitted shooter “George Zimmerman should be arrested immediately for his own safety.”
Rep. Wilson also announced plans to draft legislation that would establish a federal commission to examine the social status of Black men and boys, and how economic and other disparities impact them, similar to one that she helped create during her time as a Florida state senator.
Brown, whose congressional district includes Sanford, said that she’s no attorney, but could easily see how every aspect of the incident has been bungled.
“I don’t know whether it’s incompetence or cover-up or all of the above, but we’ve got to make sure that what has happened in Sanford with the police department and how they handled this situation never happens again in the United States and certainly not in Florida and not in my district,” she said.
Brown added that times like these are often referred to as teachable moments, but she hopes that this time the nation will not only learn something but put in place procedures to guide how police departments handle such cases and provide greater oversight of neighborhood watch groups and similar organizations that freely “empower and crown” themselves with more authority than they should have.
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)