Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, spoke at a Phoenix forum about racial profiling Saturday, saying she has found purpose in her son's death, and new meaning in a Florida jury's decision to acquit the man who killed him.
"If [George Zimmerman] would have been convicted, then that would have been an end to the story," Fulton said. "And I would not be sitting here."
See also: Trayvon Martin Protests Continue George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, and the Way of the Gun Fulton spoke to a crowd of around 100 people at Memorial Hall in Steele Indian School Park. It was part of a forum on racial profiling and a U.S. tour to decry the "Stand Your Ground" gun law that found her son's death justified.
"I never believed that the jury would not see that it was a murder," she says.
Fulton and the family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, say they are using the loss to champion their latest effort to change Stand Your Ground laws in the U.S. with the "Trayvon Amendment," which, Crump says, would make it so that "if you confront someone, and if you instigate [a fight], you can't get away with murder."
Crump says the problem is not just that Zimmerman was found legally justified in killing Martin but, more important, the precedent it sets.
"Now every black and brown boy walking down the street has as target on their back, and this law says when you hit that target, it's okay."
Arizona and about 20 other states have Stand Your Ground laws -- or something similar to them -- which grants a person the right to use deadly force to defend themselves if they feel threatened, without requiring them to retreat. Fulton and Crump say they plan to travel to as many Stand Your Ground states as possible to catalyze discussion about the law.
The forum comprised two panels of eights speakers. Discussions ranged from failure of the education system in low economic areas, police profiling, to the fact that 30 percent of black men in the U.S. will spend some time in prison.
Panel member Penny Willrich and associate dean of the Phoenix School of Law, says this high percentage could have something to do with underrepresentation of Blacks in the judicial process, which she believed also might have been a factor in Martin's court proceedings.
"When your child walks into court," she says, speaking to a mostly Black crowd, "they're not going to see anyone who looks like them."
The first panel included Willrich, a student activist, documentary filmmaker Alex Munoz, and multi-platinum rap artist Rampage. ("Freeway" Rick Ross, the famed '80s crack kingpin was also scheduled to be at the event, but was unable to appear.)
The second panel was made of two local attorneys, Dr. Ray Winbush, a scholar from Morgan State University, and Crump.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
At the end of the forum, Sybrina sat onstage with Crump and another lawyer. She says in the days that passed after her son's death and Zimmerman's acquittal, she put her faith in God and trusted he had a plan for her. Now she knows her duty is to speak out against these laws and to use the foundation they set up in her son's name to help others.
"We are hoping to help the people who don't have a voice, the cases you don't see, and the victims you don't hear about," she says.