Obama on Trayvon Martin: ‘He Could Have Been Me’
President Barack Obama held a surprise press conference Friday at the White House to discuss the Trayvon Martin case, where a 17-year-old Florida teen was shot dead by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in February. Obama’s appearance comes nearly a week after the not guilty verdict was delivered in the Zimmerman case. “When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 25 years ago,” he began. Obama went on to suggest that the outcome would have been different if Martin was White, according to NBC News. “If a white male teen would have been involved in this scenario,” he said, “both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.” As the nation’s first Black president, Obama addressed the incident from the perspective of the African American community and their long history of enduring racism in the country. “The African-American community is looking at this through a set of experiences and history that doesn’t go away,” he said. The Commander-in-Chief also name-dropped the Justice Department for conducting the investigation from a civil rights angle but he urged state and local officials to improve their law enforcement procedures, specifically Florida and its “stand your ground” laws. He also pointed out that despite the verdict, race relations in America have improved. “I don’t want us to lose sight of the fact that things are getting better,” Obama said. Watch the full speech courtesy of NBC News above.