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WATCH: Trayvon Martin's parents share their shock at George Zimmerman's acquittal
"It's sending a terrible message to other little black and brown boys"
 

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Trayvon Martin's mother and father — Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin — on Thursday made their first public appearance since George Zimmerman was acquitted last weekend of killing their son. Fulton said she was "stunned" that the jury found Zimmerman not guilty, even though Zimmerman says he shot the boy in self-defense.

"I thought surely that he would be found guilty of second degree murder, manslaughter at the least," Fulton said on CBS' This Morning. "But I just knew that they would see that this was a teenager just trying to get home. This was no burglar. This was somebody's son that was trying to get home."

On NBC's Today show, host Matt Lauer asked whether they saw the tragedy as a product of racism. (Zimmerman is white and Latino, while Martin was black.) "I think that if Trayvon had been white, this wouldn't have never happened," Tracy Martin said. "So, obviously, race played some type of role."

Then came the most uncomfortable part of Lauer's questioning of the grieving parents: He asked whether they could forgive Zimmerman, and whether they thought it was fair that he was facing death threats.

That got to Dodai Stewart at Jezebel. "Seriously, though? For crying out loud," she said. "The man shot and killed their unarmed child and they're supposed to be worried he might be an outcast?"

Fulton's response:

We don't know about that, but what we do know is about the victims. We sit on the victims' seat. Is this the intent for the justice system to have for victims? It's sending a terrible message to other little black and brown boys that you can't walk fast, you can't walk slow. So what do they do? I mean, how do you get home without people knowing or either assuming that you're doing something wrong? Trayvon wasn't doing anything wrong.

Martin's parents did not give any indication whether they would file a wrongful death suit against Zimmerman. They did, however, urge President Obama to make sure his administration combs through the evidence to see whether the Justice Department could charge Zimmerman with violating Trayvon Martin's civil rights.

"At least go through it with a fine-toothed comb," Fulton said. "And just make sure the Ts were crossed and the Is were dotted."

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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