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Trayvon Martin's parents attend Tampa discussion

TBO.com
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:37 AM

Trayvon Martin supporters at a panel discussion to address Florida's "stand your ground" law went beyond the Feb. 26 shooting, urging audience members to step up their participation in civic life.

The parents of Martin, the teen whose shooting death in Sanford by a neighborhood watch captain sparked a national discussion about the limits of self-defense, attended the discussion at Beulah Baptist Institutional Church in Tampa. It was sponsored by the National Bar Association, the largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents Martin's family, said the case should be a landmark for review of the "stand your ground" law and other factors.

"Justice in my mind is … there will be no more Trayvon Martins," Crump said.

Crump praised Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, for holding their own amid massive publicity.

"God is with you, and when God is with you, who can be against you?" Crump said.

Other panelists, including several lawyers, explained the origins of the "stand your ground" law, and discussed the status of the case and the likely next steps in the legal proceedings against the shooter, George Zimmerman.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot to death by Zimmerman, in Sanford. Zimmerman, who says he shot Martin in self-defense, remained free until last week when he was arrested on a second-degree murder charge.

Fueled by social media, the case drew the attention of a nation. More than two million people signed a petition calling for Zimmerman's arrest. Thousands more joined public demonstrations, or posted photos of themselves in hoodies similar to the one Martin was wearing when he was shot.

Several speakers touched on the public outcry surrounding the case.

Another speaker, radio host Otis Antony from WMNF, said "They say that the people's public pressure had nothing to do with it … We say that George Zimmerman is in jail, and it is a testament to the power of the people."

Crump said he and the family expected 200 to 300 people to attend their news conference in New York, but thanks to social networks, they spoke to an audience of tens of thousands.

He quoted Fulton as telling the crowd, "If it could happen to my son, it could happen to your son. So we all need to stand up for Trayvon Martin."

The discussion also included calls to reform education, and to increase voting and political participation.

"Racial profiling didn't begin with George Zimmerman holding a gun and saying 'He looks suspicious.' It begins at home. It begins in the schools," said panelist, Tanya Clay House, of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "We've got to make sure that this justice we're talking about is justice for all children, wherever they are."

Crump said racial profiling led to Martin's death, and the "stand your ground" law "could possibly exonerate his killer."

Zimmerman told police he was attacked by the teenager on his way back to his car. Under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, a person in fear of injury or death can use deadly force. Zimmerman's attorney has said he plans to use the law as part of the defense for his client.

Other panelists include Clinton Paris of the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs; state Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale; and Carolyn Collins with the NAACP-Hillsborough County.

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