Trayvon Martin's parents visit Congress, say they continue to fight for justice
Updated: 6:25 p.m. ET
Trayvon Martin's parents made an appearance on Tuesday in a forum in Congress led by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee about racial profiling, taking a moment to thank their supporters for helping them "fight for justice" for their son, and for their efforts to make sure that he "did not indeed die in vain."
"Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon is your son," said Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother, to a hushed room. "A lot of people can relate to our situation. And it breaks their heart just like it breaks mine. Thank you for everything."
Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's father, added his thanks to everyone "who has helped us stand tall in this matter" and who is "holding the legacy of Trayvon and making sure that he did not indeed die in vain."
"I'd just like to say thank you, and he's sadly missed, and we'll continue to fight for justice for him," Martin said.Atty. for Trayvon Martin's parents speaks out
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The couple, who arrived several minutes into the Democratic-led forum on the role of the federal government on issues of racial profiling and hate crimes, was greeted with applause as they walked into the room. Shortly following their arrival, House Democrats led a moment of silence on behalf of the 17-year-old, who was slain a month ago by a neighborhood watch member in Sanford, Florida.
Participants in the forums called for Congress to pass stronger laws prohibiting racial profiling, and urged state legislatures to repeal the so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws which have come under intense scrutiny in light of Martin's death.
There were no Republican lawmakers present at the event.
In Florida, the "Stand Your Ground" law allows a person to "stand his or her ground and meet force with force . . . including deadly force" if there is a reasonable belief it is needed to "prevent death or great bodily harm," even if there's a chance to escape.
George Zimmerman, the Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed teen last month, claims he was defending himself.
According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman told police he exchanged words with Martin and that Martin attacked him. Zimmerman says he began crying for help, but Martin's family argues it was their son who was calling for help. Witness accounts differ and 911 tapes are not clear.
"We are here today to discuss a matter that never should have happened," said Benjamin Crump, the Martin family attorney. "I think it's one of those matters that if we had a better understanding and more laws on racial profiling, that this never would have happened."
"We honestly believe that Trayvon Martin is dead today because he was racially profiled," Crump added.
Speaking to reporters following the forum, Fulton and Martin said they would continue to seek justice for their son's death.
"Of course my heart is broken, but it breaks even more to know that we have not gotten justice yet and that this man has not been arrested for shooting and killing my son," Fulton said.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, said Tuesday that Congress has a "legislative responsibility" to end "the killing of young boys of all backgrounds in America."
Lee cited figures showing that the number of justified homicides in the state of Florida had increased since the passage of the "Stand Your Ground" law, and suggested that it was because of that law that "the police department in this instance unfortunately did not pursue the vigorous investigation that was necessary."
Lee, alongside several other participants in the panel, demanded further investigations into "Stand Your Ground" laws, as well as increased regulations and accountability for those patrolling the streets.
"I will not rest until an arrest is made," said Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., in remarks. "I will not stop beating this drum until we have justice for Trayvon. I am tired of burying young black boys. I have buried too many, cried too many tears, attended too many funerals, and it is unnecessary."
Wilson said she planned to introduce legislation demanding the establishment of a federal commission aimed at studying the "race-based injustices, health disparities, and economic disparities affecting African American men and boys."
"This investigation is laced with racial profiling, lies, and murder," Wilson added. "Trayvon was hunted, chased, tackled, and shot. Ill-conceived laws and lax gun laws all contributed to this tragedy."
Over the weekend, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Shumer called on the Justice Department to expand its probe of the Martin shooting to include an examination of the "Stand Your Ground" laws, which he argued presented a move toward "vigilantism."
"This 'Stand Your Ground' law is a whole new concept in our jurisprudence," Schumer said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "It basically says if you fear great physical harm you can shoot. Some people call it 'Shoot first, ask questions later.'"
Fla. teen Trayvon Martin killed by neighborhood watch volunteer
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