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MSNBC TV
updated 7/18/2013 11:46:00 PM ET 2013-07-19T03:46:00

Trayvon Martin’s parents react to the verdict during an interview with MSNBC's Al Sharpton.

Trayvon Martin’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, joined by their lawyer Benjamin Crump, share their thoughts and reflections on the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial during an appearance on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation.

Video: Trayvon Martin’s parents react to the verdict

  1. Closed captioning of: Trayvon Martin’s parents react to the verdict

    >>> a rainy night in sanford , florida 17-year-old trayvon martin was shot and killed. five days ago, george zimmerman was found not guilty in his death. since then, we've seen a huge reaction, protests around the country, calls for a boycott of florida , a new debate on race and guns, even a statement from the president of the united states . but there are two people we haven't heard much from, trayvon's parents, sybrina fulton and tracy martin. tonight they're here. and for the next hour, we'll talk about their reaction to the verdict, the jury, what is next for them, and of course we'll talk about the young man they called tray. tonight on "politicsnation," trayvon martin's parents after the verdict.

    >> state of florida versus george zimmerman verdict, we the jury find george zimmerman not guilty. so say we all.

    >> sybrina fulton, tracy martin, and their attorney benjamin crump, first, thank you all for being here tonight.

    >> thank you, reverend.

    >> it has been five days since the verdict. first of all, how are you all doing?

    >> one day at a time, one day at a time.

    >> you -- what have you been doing the last five days recovering from this, reacting to this, getting yourself stronger? what is the last five days been like?

    >> most of the time i slept or i tried to sleep. a lot of praying. you know, i just didn't want to get in touch with family. they were texting me. they were calling me. but i just wanted my own time, my own time with god, my own time with myself, just to get myself together, get my mind together, get my thoughts together.

    >> what about you, tracy ?

    >> basically, the last five days just been trying to get my composure, trying to get myself together, because i know i have to be strong, not only for my family, but there are countless families out there, young men and young women that are counting on us to be strong.

    >> you know, last saturday when the verdict came in i was in midtown manhattan when we heard and rushed to the studio. the one thing i noticed, y'all were not in the courtroom. every day y'all were there. did you purposely not come? did you feel that the verdict was going to be a not guilty verdict and you didn't want to be there? why weren't you all in the courtroom?

    >> i think it was more about our actions. we were told, you know, by the court system that there could be no loud outbursts, no reactions, no emotions. that coupled with our attorney's advice that it wasn't a good idea for us to be there, because we probably couldn't contain our emotions either way . so we decided, we talked about it, and we decided that it wasn't a good idea for us to go. so that was just the only day we missed, and, you know, i'm glad we did.

    >> how did you react?

    >> man, i broke down. because i was in disbelief. i just didn't -- i couldn't understand why the jury came back with the verdict that they did. i felt as though there were a substantial amount of evidence to convict him of second-degree murder.

    >> disbelief. i mean, when i heard them say not guilty, i thought it was too counts. i was waiting on the second count, and then it was just over like that. it was kind of stunning.

    >> shocking, right.

    >> all right, shocking. how is javaris doing?

    >> he watches us. he pays attention to what we say, what we do, and how we act, react. he is doing well. he is coming along. he is taking one day at a time. he is remaining prayerful. and, you know, he is surrounded by family and friends .

    >> did you watch the attorneys after the verdict, their press statements, the defense attorneys when they held a press conference?

    >> yes.

    >> what was your reaction to what they had to say?

    >> i didn't -- i haven't watched any of the press releases. i just couldn't get myself in front of the tv to see what they had to say. i just felt that as a father, who had lost his child , i felt that his life had been made a mockery of. so i couldn't just stand in front of the tv and watch them parade, so to speak, on national television.

    >> why do you feel that trayvon's life was a mockery of?

    >> i just didn't feel as though they -- the jurors, not all of the sanford police, but some of the sanford police department didn't take this serious at all. and i just, as i said, i just didn't feel that his life value meant anything to them.

    >> sybrina, you said you saw some of it. what was your reaction to the press conference by the defense attorneys?

    >> i -- let me just go back. as i said in the courtroom, it just seemed to me as though trayvon was on trial. and this trial was not about trayvon. this trial was about george zimmerman and what he did that night. but it just constantly seemed to me like they were trying to just bring things up that trayvon had done. i mean, who hasn't done things as a 17-year-old, you know? so i think they put more responsibility on the child , trayvon, and not the adult, george zimmerman . so the comments that they made was based on that. the comments were to me some of the comments were just distasteful, you know. you can tell me you're sorry for my loss and then stabbing me in the back at the same time. so i understand that. i understand what, you know, the concept in everything that was going on.

    >> did -- when you say that all of that stabbing in the back, trying trayvon rather than zimmerman , do you think it was a fair trial ?

    >> i think the state of florida did their best. i think angela corey's office did their best to try to get a conviction. i don't know about the jury, i don't know about the defense. i think the judge was fair in our rulings of the different motions. but it just seemed it like -- when the verdict came, it seemed like wow, you can get away with murder. so now our kids are targets, you know. and it's a scary feeling. how are we going to reassure them to feel safe walking down the street going home , minding their own business with a drink and some candy?

    >> tracy , we rallied and said we wanted a trial. we got a trial. was it fair?

    >> i feel the state did all they could do. of course, coming from me as a father who lost his child , i just think that the system wasn't fair. the statutes, the laws in florida , i just didn't feel that they applied to trayvon as equal as they did to george zimmerman . i just think there were too many loopholes, too much were blaming trayvon for his own death. how can you blame a 17-year-old child for his own death? he could have avoided his own death by simply going home . and george zimmerman said himself to the dispatch on the 911 calls, he didn't want to give his address out because he didn't want people to know where he lived at. so why would trayvon go straight home after being chased by somebody?

    >> you know, juror b37 gave an interview, and she said this. it seemed like she said a lot of what you just said like trayvon was responsible. watch this statement. she made and tell me your reaction as parents.

    >> i believe he played a huge role in his death. he could have -- when george confronted him and he could have walked away and gone home. he didn't have to do whatever he did and come back and be in a fight.

    >> he played a huge role. he could have gone home. how do you listen to that as a mother and feel?

    >> if somebody is following me in their vehicle, and then they follow me on foot, i'm not going home , because i don't want that person to know where i live, for one. and then i don't want that person to harm anybody that may be in my house. so just common sense tells you that i wouldn't go directly home if somebody was chasing me or if somebody was pursuing me or following me. i'm not going home , because then you know where i live. i think the statement shows that there was definitely a disconnect with the jury. they did not see themselves as trayvon being their son, because had they, you know, just took a moment to look in our eyes and to sit in our seat and just walk in our shoes, they would have understood that trayvon was minding his own business. he was not a burglar. he was not doing anything wrong. and some of that information came out that he had candy and a drink. if you're going toe burglarize somebody's house, you'll have burglary tools.

    >> right.

    >> you wouldn't be on the phone with somebody at the time that you're getting ready to commit this crime.

    >> do you think, tracy , that these jurors understood trayvon, could relate to trayvon? they had a kind of kinship with trayvon?

    >> i don't think they could connect with him in the sense they're not looking through the eyes of an african-american parent. they don't know what it's like to be an african-american parent. they don't know all of the trials and tribulations. i think the disconnect was maybe they have kids, and they never figured that their kids would ever have to be put in that position, where we on the other hand, we understand that society is cruel. and i just don't think that they saw it coming from our perspective.

    >> now, there was a report that the jury was split. three voted guilty initially, then two voted manslaughter, one voted second-degree murder. then they kind of swayed them over. how did you react when you heard there was initially a split in the vote?

    >> i just didn't -- i couldn't understand how can you come from three people feeling that he was guilty of manslaughter to all six people feeling that he was innocent? that's the part that i'm having trouble grasping, because that showed me that there was -- there was thought in their mind that he was guilty. and how you go from second degree to not guilty at all, that troubles me. that baffles me. i have no idea how they got to that.

    >> if s there something prosecutor could have done, attorney crump, that could have helped keep this going in at least the people that were already on the jury? one is saying murder 2. did the prosecution fail?

    >> i know attorney parks and i talked about this a lot and attorney jackson, my legal team. as sybrina said, we thank ms. corey for bringing the charges, because many of the prosecutors in the state of florida would not have brought the charges no matter how much evidence they had. and certainly lawyers have different strategies and different styles. one of the strategies attorney parks and i employ always is to empower the jury to say your vote today in this courtroom is more important than your vote when you go vote in a presidential election . you go back there and you hold on to your vote. you don't let people sway you from your vote. your vote will count more today than it will in any presidential election . six votes in that jury, and that's what it was. and one vote counted all the world to tracy and sybrina if they just would have hold on to their vote and not gave in on their vote. and that's tant an important thing to tell a jury. we always tell the jury that you got to make your vote count.

    >> and the prosecution didn't say that?

    >> it's a different style. we know that's our style to make sure we empower the jury.

    >> you know, when we hear this juror that basically had done the interviews, basically took george zimmerman 's view, felt that he was -- let me play you something that clearly says that she kind of bought into whatever zimmerman 's story was.

    >> i think george zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place. i think pretty much it happened the way george said it happened. george had a way to protect himself at that point. i have no doubt that george feared for his life.

    >> how do you feel when you feel her say his heart was in the right place. she had no doubt he feared for his life?

    >> it just made me think she had made up her mind before she had heard the evidence, before the trial started, and before she was even selected. she had already made up her mind. because she calls him by his first name, george . she says george this and george that. so she had already made up her mind. that's the sad part about it.

    >> tracy ?

    >> yeah, i feel the same way. i feel that the intent from the outset from this juror was tainted. she had her own intentions to get as juror. and her mind was made up before she was even selected.

    >>> well, reverend sharpton, i think we normally don't talk about jurors and their deliberations. however, she came forward and volunteered. so that makes it, you know, where we can talk about it. and there were so many troubling things that she said in that interview. for instance, when they said do you feel sympathy for trayvon martin and she said i feel sympathy for both of them. hold on. you're equating a deceased child and the person that killed him on the same level? and furthermore, as sybrina said, it was george , and it was george , and it was almost nothing was entree von's perspective. it was not from the perspective of a kid who was running away . and as sybrina and tracy said, they couldn't imagine that this would be their child who was in this terrible situation, this scary situation, running from a stranger you didn't know. and that's who we see when we think about trayvon. every african-american parent, every parent who says i want to be compassionate to a child you think that could be my child .

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