In a statement Sunday, President Barack Obama called on every American to undergo a period of "calm reflection" after neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was found not guilty Saturday in the death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012.
"The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America," Obama wrote. "I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. 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."
The death of the black teenage death captured national attention last year and even evoked an emotional statement from Obama, who spoke as a parent in March 2012.
"When I think about this boy I think about my own kids and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened," he said at the time. "I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how something like this happened. That means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened as well as the specifics of the incident.
"But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon. If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon. I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and we will get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
After the verdict was read Saturday night, a Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement that they "continue to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial."
Obama, who unsuccessfully pushed for a series of gun control measures this year after an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., questioned again whether the United States and its residents are doing all they can to prevent more deaths.
"We should ask ourselves if were doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities," Obama said. "We should ask ourselves if were 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. As citizens, thats a job for all of us. Thats the way to honor Trayvon Martin."
McClatchy Washington Bureau