Obama Speaks On Trayvon Martin, Issues Statement After Zimmerman Verdict

President Obama’s position on Trayvon Martin’s death and the ensuing second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman has been a hot button issue, with many accusations from the right that the president was inflaming racial tensions after the killing.

Obama’s Trayvon Martin opinion has been scant on record, with the president saying little about the high-profile case as the justice system meandered toward a decision — finally handed down last night in a Seminole County, Florida courtroom.

After George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict was received last evening, tempers flared on both sides, and many looked to the White House — where protesters reported gathered last night, shouting, “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” (Obama’s sole statement on the matter last year.)

Today, President Obama released a White House statement on the Zimmerman verdict and Trayvon Martin’s death, officially addressing the legal exoneration of the teen’s killer.

It began:

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.

The White House statement on the Trayvon Martin verdict continues:

“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.”

Obama’s press release notes that lack of conviction does not mean Martin’s death was in vain:

“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.”

The statement concludes:

As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.

While Obama’s Trayvon Martin statement urges reflection, “Hoodies Up” protests are scheduled for 6 PM tonight in Washington DC, as well as in New York City’s Union Square.