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WASHINGTON (AP) — Looking for positive lessons to draw from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, President Barack Obama said Friday the nation needs to do some “soul-searching,” look for ways to bolster African-American boys and examine state and local laws to see if they encourage confrontations like the one in Florida.

“Where do we take this?” Obama wondered aloud in an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room. “How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?”

The president said it’s time “for all of us to some soul searching,” but he also said it’s generally not productive when politicians try to orchestrate a conversation.

On the positive side, he said race relations in the United States actually are getting better Looking at his own daughters and their interactions with friends, the president said, “They’re better than we are. They’re better than we were.”

The president declined to wade into the detail of legal questions about the Florida case, saying, “Once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.”

But he said state and local laws, such as Florida’s “stand your ground” statute, need a close look.

Obama said it would be useful “to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of confrontation” that led to Martin’s death. He questioned whether a law that sends the message that someone who is armed “has the right to use those firearms even if there is a way for them to exit from a situation” really promotes the peace and security that people want.

And he raised the question of whether Martin himself, if he had been armed, “could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk” and shot neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman if he felt threatened when being followed.

Obama’s appearance marked his first extended comments on the Martin case since Zimmerman was acquitted last weekend of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Martin’s death last year. Jurors found that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense when he shot the unarmed black teenager. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department has an open investigation into the case. The department is looking into whether Zimmerman violated Martin’s civil rights.

Obama, who early on had said that if he had a son, the boy would have looked like Martin, on Friday drew an even more personal connection, saying that “Trayvon Martin could’ve been me 35 years ago.”

He said that as people process the Zimmerman verdict, it’s important to put the angry reaction of many African-Americans into context. Protests and demonstrations, he said, are understandable, adding that “some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through — as long as it remains nonviolent.”

“It’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away,” he said.

He said that distrust shadows African-American men, that they sometimes are closely followed when they shop at department stores, that they can draw nervous stares on elevators and hear car locks clicking when they walk down the street — experiences that he personally felt before becoming a well-known figure.

“It’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear,” he said.

(Photo: AP)

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6 thoughts on “VIDEO: Obama Speaks on Trayvon Martin, Describes Being Racially Profiled

  1. Boycott all White Businesses!!! Stop giving the white people your hard earned money… They love their money, so we must take it away by Boycott… We give white people the power by giving them our hard earned money… “Take the Money away and they will lose their power”.

  2. majestic on said:

    Well ..It was damn If he say something Damn If he don’t. I appreciate him talking without his teleprompter and talking from his heart.

    Thanks Obama

  3. You can tell the Trayvon case and verdict is weighing HEAVY on his heart. This is not some prepared, political speech. This is President Obama speaking not as a president, but as a BLACK MAN living in white Amerikka. For some reason, it also seemed a little eerie to me. When I listened to him, it had the same tone and deep meaning like Martin Luther King’s last speech. Almost like…” I don’t care what the repercussions are, I have to say this.” I hope I am wrong…

  4. I was gratified to hear our President not only speak directly to the family of Trayvon Martin (Something that frankly not many in the justice system have done throughout this ordeal.) but to hear him acknowledge the issues of profiling that he himself faced in the past. I think most of us truly wish things were more equal and fair but what we will not do is ignore ignorance and unjustified hatred of ourselves and our children by people to whom we have done only other that exist on this earth.

    The President mentioned having seen and heard people lock their car doors as he passed by, well my daughters and I have had that happen to us. So now we play a game when we are driving along. From time to time when we pull up next to a white person (s) look over quickly then lock the doors. I can not tell you how many times they have responded in shock that we felt the need to lock the door and look away. We just give them a taste of their own medicine. I know it’s not right but it sure makes the point…

  5. Mothernature on said:

    I’m grateful that I was raised around diverse thinkers and shakers. I was born in a total different culture, that was very open minded and thought outside the box. Other cultures come clear across the oceans and adapt, and America’s stay stuck in a narrow box. I’ve been from one side of the US to the other and some will not catch up with the time. Time stands still for no one. I meet this person from Africa, well educated and he posed a thought to me, if we all were in a room without any lights we would relate to one with similar beliefs, educational back rounds, etc. I believe we limit our kids with small petty thoughts, they desire to dream, dream and dream BIG…

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