Democrats give sup­port to slain teen’s par­ents

Seek­ing jus­tice fol­low­ing killing of Trayvon Martin

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY SEAN LENGELL

The par­ents of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was fa­tally shot last month by a neigh­bor­hood watch vol­un­teer, trav­eled to Capi­tol Hill on Tues­day to urge Congress to push for an­swers and jus­tice in their son’s death.

Trayvon’s mother, Sy­b­rina Ful­ton, and fa­ther, Tracy Martin, who spoke briefly at a con­gres­sional forum or­ga­nized by House Democrats, thanked sup­port­ers who have “al­lowed us to stand tall.”

“Thank you to ev­ery­one who’ve sup­ported our fam­ily ev­ery­one who has helped us stand tall in this mat­ter, ev­ery­one who is hold­ing the legacy of Trayvon and mak­ing sure that he did not in­deed die in vain,” said Mr. Martin.

Ms. Ful­ton added that “Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon was your son.”

Af­ter the 21/ hour forum, the par­ents, sur­rounded by at­tor­neys and Democrats, called for “peace” for their son’s ac­cused shooter, Ge­orge Zim­mer­man, who told po­lice he acted in self­de­fense and hasn’t been ar­rested or charged.

“We have not got­ten jus­tice yet be­cause this man has not been ar­rested for shoot­ing my son,” Ms. Ful­ton said.

But the forum, billed as a brief­ing on racial pro­fil­ing and hate crimes, was dom­i­nated by law­mak­ers, mostly black House Democrats, who strongly con­demned Mr. Zim­mer­man and San­ford, Fla., law en­force­ment of­fi­cials han­dling the case.

Trayvon, 17, was fa­tally shot Feb. 26 in the cen­tral Florida city where his fa­ther’s girl­friend lives.

A neigh­bor­hood watch vol­un­teer called the po­lice to say he saw some­one in a hooded sweat­shirt who looked high on drugs and was sus­pi­cious be­cause he walked too slowly in a gated com­mu­nity.

The un­armed teenager, who was serv­ing out a sus­pen­sion from his Mi­ami- area high school, was com­ing from a store where he bought Skit­tles and iced tea, and was talk­ing to his girl­friend on the phone, records show.

Mr. Zim­mer­man told po­lice Trayvon jumped him, punched him in the face and slammed his head on the ground, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pub­lished by the Or­lando Sen­tinel.

The teen’s vi­o­lent death has in­spired ral­lies and marches from coast to coast and sparked a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion about racial pro­fil­ing and jus­tice.

As civil rights ac­tivists and Democrats ral­lied for Trayvon’s par­ents in Washington, more in­for­ma­tion about wit­ness ac­counts and the teen-ager’s back­ground in school leaked out of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shoot­ing.

The Or­lando Sen­tinel re­ported that Mr. Zim­mer­man told po­lice that he and Trayvon ex­changed words be­fore the teen punched him in the nose and be­gan bang­ing his head on the ground. He said he cried out for help, and at least one wit­ness cor­rob­o­rated at least part of that ac­count.

The par­ents’ at­tor­ney, Ben Crump, said the neg­a­tive re­ports that are be­ing leaked about Trayvon are mak­ing Mr. Zim­mer­man look like the vic­tim and Trayvon the sus­pect.

“When you re­view the case, ev­ery as­pect of it has been han­dled very poorly, very poorly, and not ac­cord­ing to any stan­dards,” said Rep. Cor­rine Brown, Florida Demo­crat who rep­re­sents San­ford.

“I don’t know if it’s in­com­pe­tence or whether its a cover-up or all of the above, but we’ve got to make sure that what has hap­pened in San­ford with the po­lice depart­ment and how they han­dled this sit­u­a­tion never hap­pens again in the United States of Amer­ica.”

Rep. Fred­er­ica S. Wil­son, a Demo­crat who rep­re­sents the Mi­ami- area town where Trayvon lived, said Trayvon was the “vic­tim of a botched po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

“I will not rest un­til an ar­rest is made. I will not stop beat­ing this drum un­til we have jus­tice for Trayvon,” Ms. Wil­son said.

Rep. John Cony­ers Jr. of Michi­gan, the rank­ing Demo­crat on the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee who ran the forum, called at one point in the meet­ing for a mo­ment of si­lence for Trayvon.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case and could bring a hate crime charge against the shooter if there is suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence the slay­ing was mo­ti­vated by racial bias and not sim­ply a fight that spi­raled out of con­trol, le­gal ex­perts and for­mer prose­cu­tors say.

This story is based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports.

ROD LAMKEY JR./THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Tracy Martin and Sy­b­rina Ful­ton, par­ents of Trayvon Martin, thanked sup­port­ers who have “al­lowed us to stand tall.” They ap­peared at a con­gres­sional forum or­ga­nized by House Democrats ontues­day. The par­ents’ 17-year-old son was killed in Florida last month.

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