Washington: President Barack Obama urged
Americans to do some "soul searching" on Friday after the killing
of an unarmed black teenager by a neighbourhood watch guard
that has sparked outrage across the nation.
"If I had a son he would look like Trayvon," Obama, the
country`s first African American president, told reporters, as
he called the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin a
"I think all of us have to do soul searching to figure
out how does something like this happen and that means we
examine the laws and the context for what happened."
Up to 20,000 people demanding justice rallied last night
in the Florida town of Sanford where Martin was shot dead by
volunteer neighbourhood watch guard George Zimmerman in late
February in a gated community.
The mostly African-American crowd demanded the arrest of
Zimmerman, who claims he acted in self-defence after a
confrontation with the teenager. Zimmerman has been neither
detained nor charged with any crime.
Protesters have claimed that Martin`s killing is just the
last example of racial profiling and unjust treatment of
blacks by the country`s criminal justice system.
An online petition has gathered more than a million
signatures following Martin`s fatal shooting on February 26,
and the Department of Justice has launched an investigation
into the events.
The FBI, the state attorney`s office and the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement are also investigating the case.
Local police say they believe Zimmerman cannot be
prosecuted thanks to a Florida law that lets state residents
use lethal force in self-defence.
"Obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine these
parents are going through. And when I think about this boy I
think about my own kids," Obama said, addressing reporters in
the White House Rose Garden.
He said Martin`s parents "are right to expect that all of
us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it
deserves and we`ll get to the bottom of what happened.