President Obama appealed for “calm reflection” Sunday in the wake of a jury’s not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
“I know this case has elicited strong passions,” Mr. Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. “And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”
A Florida jury Saturday night found Mr. Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting of the teenager. Rallies were planned in several cities Sunday, with protesters claiming Mr. Zimmerman racially profiled the teen and provoked the deadly confrontation.
When the shooting occurred in February 2012, Mr. Obama was outspoken about the racial implications of the case, saying that if he had a son, the hypothetical child could have looked like Trayvon. On Sunday, the president said the teen’s death “was a tragedy, not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America.”
“I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son,” Mr. Obama said. “And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.
He added, “We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.”
PHOTOS: Photos from the George Zimmerman verdict