Trayvon Martin's mother speaks of her grief

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer "Please use my story, please use my tragedy, please use my broken heart to say to yourself, 'We cannot let this happen to anybody else's child.' " Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer "Please use my story, please use my tragedy, please use my broken heart to say to yourself, 'We cannot let this happen to anybody else's child.' " Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin
Posted: July 28, 2013

Two weeks after the man who killed her son was acquitted in a Florida court, the mother of Trayvon Martin took the stage at the Convention Center on Friday and spoke of the pain of her son's loss.

"Wrap your mind around no prom for Trayvon. No high school graduation for Trayvon. No college for Trayvon. No grandkids coming from Trayvon," Sybrina Fulton said in an emotional address at a National Urban League Conference luncheon.

"All because of a law - a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable and to pay for his awful crime."

On July 13, a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murder in the death of Martin, 17, in February 2012. In the aftermath of the verdict, people ranging from Martin's family to President Obama have criticized Florida laws that expansively define what constitutes self-defense.

On Friday morning, a juror in that case said she believed Zimmerman committed murder but the proof presented was insufficient to convict him. Fulton said in a statement that the comment was "devastating for my family to hear."

At the Urban League, however, Fulton did not address the morning's news.

Fulton said that in the aftermath of tragedy, she was only able to advocate for her son's legacy because of her belief in God.

"At times I feel like I'm a broken vessel. At times I don't know if I'm going or coming. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is using me and God is using my family to make a change, to make a difference," she said to a ballroom crowd of hundreds that greeted her with a standing ovation.

"Please use my story, please use my tragedy, please use my broken heart to say to yourself, 'We cannot let this happen to anybody else's child,' " she said.

She told the crowd that on the car ride on the way to the event, she gave her driver a business card featuring a black-and-white photo of her dead son. His response touched her, she said.

"That's my son, too," she said he replied, convincing Fulton that her son's death has resonated.

Fulton and her husband created the Trayvon Martin Foundation in March 2012, one month after her son's death, to raise awareness about violent crime.

Earlier Friday, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump touched on similar themes. He said self-defense laws like those in Florida compromise the rights of children.

"Our children are not criminals. Our children are not thugs. Our children have the right to walk in peace from the 7-Eleven," Crump said. "They have the right to walk anywhere. They have a right to legally be without being profiled, followed, and confronted."

Crump called Zimmerman a "strange, creepy man," and said the laws he used to justify the killing are "dangerous to our children."

Laws should say, "You cannot be the aggressor. You cannot start the confrontation. You cannot go pick the fight and then kill the person and say, 'I was standing my ground,'" Crump said. "It makes no sense."


Contact Theodore Schleifer at 215-854-5607, tschleifer@philly.com, or follow @teddyschleifer on Twitter.

Inquirer staff writer Vernon Clark contributed to this article, which also contains information from the Associated Press.

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