SANFORD, Fla. — Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton are in the car with their attorney, Ben Crump, after a long day in the Seminole County Criminal Court in Sanford, Florida, where they have been daily observers since jury selection began June 10th, in the trial of George Zimmerman, the man who shot their 17-year-old son Trayvon Martin to death in February 2012. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
“You can’t describe the feeling when you learn that your loved one has been lost. That’s like …” Martin says before trailing off. As the case plays out in court, both parents say they’re fighting a daily battle to preserve the memory of the Trayvon they knew, and to not let him become a media caricature.
“I think one of things that everybody seems to overlook is the fact that, OK, that was our child,” Martin said Wednesday, in a telephone interview with theGrio. “So whatever your opinion is of him, that’s your opinion. At the end of the day that was our child, and we knew our child and we loved him. And no matter what you try to say about him, [or] how you try to spin his image, or you try to assassinate his character, we know his character, we know his image, and it’s up to us to not let you smear him.”
A battle of images
Zimmerman says he shot Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense after Martin attacked him. Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer, called the non-emergency police line to report seeing someone suspicious as he drove through the gated community in Sanford where he lived.
The shooting has become a matter of political polarization, particularly after President Obama told a news conference last year that if he had a son, “he would look like Trayvon.” It has pierced the cultural landscape: pro athletes, celebrities and members of congress have donned hoodies, introduced resolutions, and reached out to the family, making Martin’s death a symbol of what some see as the profiling of young, black men, and disparate treatment by police. Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, has repeatedly said that “race should not be a factor in the George Zimmerman case and should never have been made one.”
This is an excerpt of an article that first appeared on TheGrio. Read the full article here.