ATLANTA (AP/WAOK) – President Barack Obama says the nation needs to do some “soul-searching” following George Zimmerman’s acquittal on murder charges in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
In an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room, Obama declined to wade into legal questions about the Florida case, saying, “Once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.”
The president tried to put the angry reaction of many African-Americans to the verdict into context. Saying “Trayvon Martin could’ve been me 35, years ago,” Obama said black men in particular are used to being feared and often see a disparity in the way they are treated under the law.
But he added that he does see race relations in the United States getting better, citing his own daughters’ interactions with their friends.
Obama wondered aloud how to draw positive lessons from the case, saying the country needs to look for ways to bolster African-American boys.
The president also said state and local laws, such as Florida’s “stand your ground” statute, need a close look to see if they end up encouraging the kind of confrontations that led to Martin’s death.