Obama: America needs 'some soul searching' after Trayvon Martin shooting and Zimmerman trial

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Associated Press

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 2:02 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the nation needs to do some "soul-searching" following George Zimmerman's acquittal on murder charges in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

In an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room, Obama declined to wade into legal questions about the Florida case, saying, "Once the jury's spoken, that's how our system works."

The president tried to put the angry reaction of many African-Americans to the verdict into context. Saying "Trayvon Martin could've been me 35, years ago," Obama said black men in particular are used to being feared and often see a disparity in the way they are treated under the law.

But he added that he does see race relations in the United States getting better, citing his own daughters' interactions with their friends.

Obama wondered aloud how to draw positive lessons from the case, saying the country needs to look for ways to bolster African-American boys.

The president also said state and local laws, such as Florida's "stand your ground" statute, need a close look to see if they end up encouraging the kind of confrontations that led to Martin's death.

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225-w-34-(Mark Smith, AP White House correspondent, with President Barack Obama)--President Obama says he understands the pain black Americans feel after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting. AP White House Correspondent Mark Smith reports. (19 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *225 (07/19/13)££ 00:34

226-a-13-(President Barack Obama, in remarks)-"doesn't go away"-President Obama says African-Americans view the verdict differently from other groups. (19 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *226 (07/19/13)££ 00:13 "doesn't go away"

227-a-09-(President Barack Obama, in remarks)-"that includes me"-President Obama says black men are used to being seen as suspicious. (19 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *227 (07/19/13)££ 00:09 "that includes me"

228-a-05-(President Barack Obama, in remarks)-"35 years ago"-President Obama says he identifies with Trayvon Martin. (19 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *228 (07/19/13)££ 00:05 "35 years ago"

229-a-11-(President Barack Obama, in remarks)-"and his family"-President Obama says protests must remain peaceful. (19 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *229 (07/19/13)££ 00:11 "and his family"

GRAPHICSBANK: US President Barack Obama comments on Trayvon Martin and verdict in George Zimmerman murder trial, Washington, DC, partial graphic (19 Jul 2013)

APPHOTO DCSW101: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. Obama says black Americans feel pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict because of a "history that doesn't go away." Obama spoke in a surprise appearance Friday at the White House, his first time appearing for a statement on the verdict since it was issued last Saturday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (19 Jul 2013)

<<APPHOTO DCSW101 (07/19/13)££

APPHOTO WHMC105: President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks to reporters in the Brady Press Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, July 19, 2013. Obama says black Americans feel pain after the Trayvon Martin verdict because of a "history that doesn't go away." Obama spoke in a surprise appearance Friday at the White House, his first time appearing for a statement on the verdict since it was issued last Saturday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (19 Jul 2013)

<<APPHOTO WHMC105 (07/19/13)££

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