"Trayvon Martin could have been me," President Obama said Friday in a press conference loaded with personal talk about race in America — including a call for a review of stand-your-ground laws across the country.
They were Obama's first live comments since a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the teenager's shooting death. The president spoke for 20 minutes in his most frank remarks on race since his pre-election speech addressing comments by Rev. Jeremiah Wright in Nov. 2008.
The president spoke of his personal experiences — universal ones for African-American men he said — being followed in department stores, hearing car doors lock as they walk down the street and seeing women clutch their purses a little tighter on a shared elevator.
Obama said African-Americans are aware of the "history of racial disparity in the application of our criminal laws" and said the government should review state and local legislation, such as Florida's Stand Your Ground law, saying they could promote rather than discourage violent confrontations.
He continued that African-Americans are not naive about the disproportionate ratio of black people who are both the perpetrators and victims of crimes.
Obama issued a written statement on Sunday calling for calm and reflection in the wake of the jury's verdict.
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