The parents of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin have broken their silence and plan to join in a series of nationwide rallies this weekend calling for federal charges against George Zimmerman.
The string of network television interviews was the first chance for the public to hear from Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin since the trial of Mr. Zimmerman concluded Saturday. He was cleared of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in connection with the February 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon.
Mr. Zimmerman may have been found not guilty, but Trayvon’s parents still believe he profiled their son and singled him out because of his race.
“Obviously, any time you have a person that makes an assumption that a person is up to no good, there’s some type of profiling there. Was he racially profiled? I think that if Trayvon had been white, this would have never happened, so, obviously, race has played some type of role,” Mr. Martin said in an interview on NBC’s “Today Show.”
“We thought that the killer of our unarmed child would be convicted,” he said. “I just didn’t understand how you can let the killer of an unarmed child go free. What would your verdict have been if it had been your child?”
Ms. Fulton agreed, saying on CBS’ “This Morning” program that she was “stunned” by the verdict.
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“I thought surely that [Mr. Zimmerman] would be found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter at the least,” she said.
The two also appeared Thursday on ABC and MSNBC.
On Saturday, Mr. Martin and Ms. Fulton will take part in rallies organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC talk show host and vocal critic of the verdict.
Ms. Fulton and her son Jahvaris will join Mr. Sharpton outside the headquarters of the New York City Police Department. Mr. Martin will attend a rally at the federal courthouse in Miami, according to The Associated Press.
Those are just two of the 100 rallies scheduled for Saturday. The ultimate goal is to persuade the Obama administration to pursue civil rights and hate crimes charges against Mr. Zimmerman.
The Justice Department says it is investigating the case — an inquiry welcomed by Ms. Fulton and civil rights leaders.
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“At least go through [the case] with a fine-toothed comb and just make sure all the T’s were crossed and all the I’s were dotted, because this is sending a terrible message,” she said.
President Obama has remained largely silent about the verdict, with the exception of calling on the American public to remain calm and not resort to violence.
Pressed by the media about Mr. Obama’s muted reaction, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president “will address this when asked.”
“The president has talked about the issues of race, obviously, in the past, and has acted on a number of issues that have to do with improving the racial dynamic in our country and — whether that goes to, you know, his position on voting rights or affirmative action or on his economic agenda,” he said.
⦁ Dave Boyer contributed to this report.