President Barack Obama, while calling on the citizens to respect the verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial called for Americans to understand the African Americans continue to face racial discrimination.
Speaking on Friday afternoon, at a surprise briefing at the White House, he said “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago”.
The president became emotional during the 17-minute address relating to the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin (17) and George Zimmerman who was acquitted of the crime last week. Jurors found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter.
Obama said he himself had been subject to casual prejudice.
“There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me," Obama said.
“And there are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator.”
The President said “I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.”
He also called on African Americans address problems of violence in their own communities. Obama said African-American males understand that they are more likely to be the "victims and perpetrators" of a crime and that "somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else."
The president questioned the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida which was part of Zimmerman’s defense. However he added that "once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works."
Also on Friday FBI has asked authorities in Sanford, Fla. to not give George Zimmerman back his gun, reports Fox News.
This new information, provided to the news channel by the Department of Justice officials, may indicate that the government is taking their investigations into whether or not to pursue a federal civil rights case against Zimmerman.
The Sanford Police Department told the Orlando Sentinel Thursday that evidence released earlier this week to the agency has been placed "in a hold status," pending the Justice Department investigation.
Earlier this week Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara said his client needed his gun now more than ever after the nations emotional reaction to his acquittal last week.
Here’s the President’s full speech, from CSPAN: