The parents of Trayvon Martin said they are in shock and disbelief over the verdict that acquitted the man who shot their teenage son.
“Is this the intent for the justice system to have for victims,” Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, said on the Today show Thursday morning. “Trayvon wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
“We felt in our hearts that we were going to get a conviction,” Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s father, said. “We thought that the killer of our unarmed child was going to be convicted of the crime that he committed.”
It is the parents’ first day speaking out on live television since a jury over the weekend found George Zimmerman not guilty on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting death of Martin in a gated community in a small suburb of Orlando. Zimmerman had pleaded not guilty to the charges claiming that he shot Martin in self-defense after the unarmed teen attacked him. Seventeen months after the killing, Zimmerman walked from a Florida court a free man.
In the hours and days following the verdict, mostly peaceful protests spread across the country. The NAACP and other civil rights groups have also called for the Justice Department to bring federal hate crimes charges against Zimmerman, saying that he racially profiled the teen before stalking and then killing him.
Tracy Martin said that he would like federal authorities to “weigh all of the options. We just, as parents, we just feel that there could’ve been something more done.”
When asked by Today host Matt Lauer if they would like to say anything to the jury, Martin responded: “How can you let the killer of an unarmed child go free?”
“What would your verdict have been had it been your child," he continued. "And there’s no winner in this case at all. It’s just, I want them to put themselves in our shoes.”
Attorney General Eric Holder this week said the DOJ has an ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Martin’s killing and will determine what further actions, if any, might be warranted.
“Obviously anytime you have a person that makes an assumption that a person is up to no good, there’s some type of profiling there. Was he racially profiled? I think that if Trayvon had been white this wouldn’t have never happened,” Tracy Martin said. “Obviously race is playing some type of role.”
Sybrina Fulton said that the jurors and the justice system “failed Trayvon to a degree.”
“We let the process take its course. We didn’t get the verdict that we were looking for because we wanted [Zimmerman] to be held accountable,” Fulton said. “Our focus has continued to change. First it was for an arrest then it was for a conviction…we were disappointed.”
When asked about forgiveness for Zimmerman, Martin said “forgiveness takes time.”
“I think that the forgiveness is like a healing process, forgiveness takes time,” he said. “The Bible says that you have to forgive and forget, but also the healing process is a long process.”