Trayvon Martin parents urge Obama to review Zimmerman case with 'fine-tooth comb'

Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton give first interviews since verdict and speak of 'shock and disgust' at Zimmerman acquittal

Trayvon Martin's parents have spoken of their "shock and disgust" at the acquittal of George Zimmerman, their son's killer, and called on President Obama to review the case "with a fine-tooth comb".

In their first interviews since a Florida jury found neighbourhood watch leader Zimmerman not guilty on Saturday of murdering the unarmed black teenager in February of last year, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin said they were left shattered by the outcome.

Their comments came as protesters prepared for a national day of action in more than 100 cities on Saturday, and as opposition to Florida's controversial stand-your-ground self-defence law continued to grow.

The department of justice has placed a hold on all evidence related to the shooting, including the gun used to shoot Trayvon Martin. Sanford police captain James McAuliffe confirmed the hold on Thursday, meaning Zimmerman would not be able to reclaim the gun, as he would otherwise be legally entitled to do.

Speaking on ABC's Good Morning America, Tracy Martin said he would "never grasp" how the jury reached its verdict. "As just and loving parents and God-fearing people, we'll continue to pray that what was in their hearts was what they intended to do," he said. "But we didn't feel the verdict was fair, and, of course, it was devastating."

The couple, who also appeared with their lawyer Benjamin Crump on the morning shows on CBS and NBC, said they wished the jury had heard more about who their 17-year-old son was. They said the defence's portrayal of him as a violent person who attacked Zimmerman was wrong.

"Trayvon simply was not that person. Trayvon was not a burglar. He wasn't doing anything wrong," Fulton said. "He simply went to the store and was headed back home. For somebody to look at him and to perceive him to be a burglar … that is the problem.

"Trayvon is not a confrontational person. So instead of placing the blame on the teenager, we need to place the blame on the responsible adult. There were two people involved. We had an adult that was chasing a kid and we had the kid who I feel was afraid."

Fulton and her ex-husband were not in court to hear the verdict despite attending every day of the three-week trial. She said she watched its conclusion on television. "My first thought was shock and disgust. I really didn't believe that he was not guilty," she said.

"I felt surely that he would be found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter at the least. I just knew that they would see that this was just a teenager trying to get home."

Eric Holder, the US attorney general, has promised that the Department of Justice will conduct a through investigation to see if Zimmerman could face a federal civil rights prosecution, although analysts have said such a case would be almost impossible to win because the government would have to prove the killer's action was racially motivated.

A juror who spoke out after the case has said the panel of six women did not believe Zimmerman profiled Martin because he was black, and the prosecution and defence in the criminal trial both said the case was not about race.

"Any time you have a person that makes an assumption that someone is up to no good, there's some type of profiling there," Tracy Martin said. "Was he racially profiled? If Trayvon had been white this wouldn't have ever happened so obviously race played some type of a role."

Asked what she wanted to happen next, Fulton said she wanted Obama to "at the least, investigate what happened."

"At least go through it with a fine-tooth comb and make sure all the Ts were crossed and all the Is were dotted, because this is sending out a terrible message to young teenagers. Trayvon was walking too slow. So should they be walking too fast? I don't think teenagers in whole know exactly what to do now," she added.

Zimmerman did not present a defence under Florida's stand-your-ground law, which allows for the use of deadly force if a person is in fear of their life of great bodily harm, but did claim he acted in self-defence.

Holder, in remarks to the annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People in Orlando on Tuesday, said it was time to "take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent."

Stand-your-ground, which removes a person's duty to retreat to safety in the event of a confrontation, and which was introduced in Florida in 2005, was an example, he said, of a law that "tried to fix something that was never broken."

Saturday's protests, organised by the National Action Network of the civil rights leader and black activist the Rev Al Sharpton, will take place in front of federal buildings across the country. Sharpton said he would also discuss a strategy for the repeal of stand-your-ground at a conference in Miami next week.

Meanwhile, a sit-in was continuing Thursday at the offices of the Florida governor Rick Scott in Tallahassee by opponents of the law.

Protests against the verdict nationwide have been largely peaceful, although a number of arrests were made in Oakland, California, during four nights of demonstrations.

Daryl Parks, another Martin family attorney, said Thursday said the dead teenager's parents were upset by the violence.

"From the time we first spoke out til right after the verdict, we called for peace and calm on their behalf," he said.

"They don't want Trayvon's legacy to be tainted by violence. They shouldn't even kick over a garbage can. To maintain Trayvon's dignity is what we expect."


Richard Luscombe in Miami

The GuardianTramp

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