President Barack Obama issued a long-awaited response Sunday afternoon to the acquittal of George Zimmerman Saturday evening, reminding Americans to temper “passions,” and that “we are a nation of laws and the jury has spoken.”
He added that Americans should “honor” the life of Trayvon Martin by committing to “stem the tide of gun violence,” and “ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion in our communities.”
In March 2012, Obama had lent his political weight to those pressing for Zimmerman’s prosecution, saying that “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” In his statement Sunday, he did not comment on calls by the NAACP and others for a Department of Justice prosecution of Zimmerman on civil rights grounds.
Obama’s push for gun control laws foundered earlier this year in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.