PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin sharply criticized Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in a speech on Friday, nearly two weeks after the man who shot her unarmed son was acquitted of murder charges.
“Wrap your mind around no prom for Trayvon,” Sybrina Fulton said in the 10-minute address to the annual conference of the National Urban League, a civil rights group.
“No high school graduation for Trayvon, no college for Trayvon, no grandkids coming from Trayvon, all because of a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable, and to pay for this awful crime. Trayvon was my son, but he is also your son,” she said.
On July 13, a jury in Seminole County, Florida, returned verdicts finding George Zimmerman, 29, not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the February 2012 death of Martin.
Critics contend that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who is white and Hispanic, racially profiled Martin when he followed the black teenager in a gated community in Sanford, Florida.
That led to a confrontation that resulted in Martin’s death.
Zimmerman claimed self-defense, saying he shot Martin as the 17-year-old pummeled him with blows and threatened to kill him.
Under the “Stand Your Ground” law, which was approved in Florida in 2005 and has been copied in some form by about 30 other states, people fearing for their lives can use deadly force without having to retreat from a confrontation, even when it is possible.
On Friday, Fulton urged a gathering of more than 1,000 Urban League members to work with her to change the state laws.
“My message to you is 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,” Fulton told the crowd, which gave her a standing ovation.
Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Chris Francescani and Eric Beech