President Barack Obama said Friday that "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago" in his first live comments since a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman last weekend in the teenager's shooting death. He also said protests against the verdict should remain nonviolent.
The president said that Americans are aware of the "history of racial disparity in our criminal laws" and said the government should review some state and local legislation, such as Florida's "stand your ground" law, saying they may promote rather than discourage violent confrontations.
Martin was shot and killed on Feb. 26, 2012, while returning from a nearby convenience store to his father's fiancée's house in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, acknowledged that he shot the unarmed 17-year-old, but said Martin physically attacked him and he fired in self-defense.
Attorneys for Martin's family accused Zimmerman of racially profiling the teen and shooting him "in cold blood."
Initially, no charges were pursued, and the case soon became the center of a national controversy.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder on April 11, 2012. A jury acquitted Zimmerman Saturday, inciting anger among many who considered the incident racially motivated murder.