President Obama, who once famously said that “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” called for a peaceful response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal, saying in an unusual statement released Sunday that the best way to honor Trayvon Martin was to battle gun violence. “I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son,” Obama said.
Below is the full text of the president’s statement:
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.
Earlier Sunday, Rep. Steve King harshly criticized Obama for his handling of the case, saying the president made the case political. "The evidence didn't support prosecution, and the Justice Department engaged in this. The president engaged in this and turned it into a political issue that should have been handled exclusively with law and order," King, a Republican from Iowa, told Fox News.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department released its own statement after Obama Sunday afternoon, saying it continues to evaluate the evidence. “Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the department’s policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial,” a department spokesman said, according to the Washington Post.