President Obama Discusses George Zimmerman Verdict
President Barack Obama decided on Friday he would talk about the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict.
The President's press conference comes almost a week after a Florida jury decided that Zimmerman did not murder Trayvon Martin.
President Obama says he wanted to speak with friends and family before talking about the verdict. The President says there does not seem to have been a problem with the Zimmerman trial. However, the U.S. Attorney General is looking at the case.
"When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago," President Obama said.
The President's first public comments about Zimmerman's acquittal came Friday, during an unannounced appearance at the daily White House briefing. President Obama spoke in personal terms.
"There's a lot of pain around what happened here. I think it's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history."
He said the black community is not naive about the fact that young black men are often involved in the criminal justice system.
"That they're disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It's not to make excuses for that fact," he said.
Even though Florida's stand your ground law was not used as a defense in the trial, President Obama repeated his call for communities to ask if the laws help or hurt.
"If they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations."
George Zimmerman's brother says he's glad the president spoke.
"No matter what your opinion of the verdict is there had to be things that bring us together, have to be teachable moments we learn from what happened here," Zimmerman's brother said.
President Obama made clear he expects there will continue to be protests, but he said they should remain peaceful.
"If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family," he said.
A former federal judge we spoke with today says the President's comments today will be seen by some as injecting politics into a judicial matter that has already been decided by a jury. The judge adds that the federal government does have the right to investigate the case to see if Trayvon martin's civil rights were violated and if race may have played a part in that.
George Zimmerman's lawyer's released a statement Friday evening saying, "The shooting is a clear case of self-defense and calling Zimmerman a man with a diverse ethnic and racial background who is not a racist and who is sensitive to the complex racial history of the country. I hope that the president was not suggesting that this case fits a pattern of racial disparity, because we strongly contend that it does not."