Obama weighs in on black teenager’s killing

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President Obama weighed in for the first time on the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin Friday in very personal terms, calling it a tragedy and urging the country to do “some soul-searching” about why it occurred.

“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” Mr. Obama said, taking just a single question from the press corps during a Rose Garden ceremony announcing the selection of Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim to be the next head of the World Bank. “I think [Trayvon’s parents] are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

Mr. Obama, who usually ignores reporters after public events, waded into the issue but seemed mindful that he was treading on unsettled legal ground.

“I’m head of the executive branch and the attorney general reports to me, so I’ve got to be careful about my statements to make sure that we’re not impairing any investigation that’s taking place right now,” he said.

Still, he talked extensively about his personal feelings about the explosive case that has led to protests and angered many in the black community. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Florida, has claimed self defense after shooting the 17-year-old Mr. Martin when he was walking through a gated community the night of Feb. 26.

The president sidestepped some of the politically charged legal issues of the case — namely, whether Mr. Zimmerman should be arrested and whether Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law goes too far. Instead, he reflected on his own role as the father of two black children.

“I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this,” Mr. Obama said. “All of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen.”

“Obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through,” he continued. “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”

Thousands of supporters of Mr. Martin’s parents gathered Thursday night to express their outrage and sorrow over the killing.

Mr. Zimmerman, 28, confronted and fatally shot Mr. Martin, who was unarmed.

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