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Parents Of Slain Florida Teen Appear On Capitol Hill


Florida state investigators are continuing to look into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. His family has been part of a widespread campaign calling for the arrest of the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed the 17-year-old high school student. Yesterday, the parents of Trayvon Martin were up on Capitol Hill attending a forum on hate crimes and racial profiling. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports from the Capitol.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin are the parents of Trayvon Martin. When they attended the hastily organized forum on Capitol Hill, they weren't scheduled to speak, and no one expected them to. But when prompted, the parents of the 17-year-old high school student turned to the microphones hesitantly. His mother, Sybrina Fulton:

SYBRINA FULTON: As I said it before and I'll say it again: Trayvon was our son, but Trayvon is your son. A lot of people can relate to our situation and it breaks their heart just like it breaks mine.

GLINTON: His father Tracy Martin offered thanks as well.

TRACY MARTIN: Everyone who's helped us stand tall in this matter, everyone who is holding the legacy of Trayvon and making sure that he did not indeed die in vain, I'd just like to say thank you, and he's sadly missed, and we'll continue to fight for justice for him.

GLINTON: Martin's parents spoke before members of the House Judiciary Committee. It wasn't an official hearing. All the members of Congress who attended were Democrats. Meanwhile House Speaker John Boehner said what happened to Trayvon Martin was, quote, "clearly a tragedy." He also said he thought it was appropriate for the investigation to remain with state and federal authorities. The speakers words didn't keep members of the panel from using the forum for catharsis. Here's Democrat Frederica Wilson of Florida:

REPRESENTATIVE FREDERICA WILSON: I am tired of burying young black boy boys. I have buried too many, cried too many tears. Attended too many funerals, and it is unnecessary.

GLINTON: The panel heard testimony from human rights organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, gun control advocates and others. But the speeches by the congressmen and women present outlasted the testimony. Member after member called for the arrest of George Zimmerman. He's the neighborhood watch coordinator who shot Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, last month. Here Democrat Al Green of Texas:

REPRESENTATIVE AL GREEN: I don't believe that we can rest until there has been an arrest. I also will point out that a hoodie does not make you a criminal.

GLINTON: After the forum was over the parents were lead through the Rayburn Congressional Building, escorted by several members of Congress. Both parents look tired and even frightened by the crush of reporters. Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's mother's words were few and tentative during the proceedings. She sounded measured when calling for justice.

FULTON: We recognize that a lot of people are doing things on behalf of Trayvon Martin. We decided that we want this done peaceful. We want you to protest, we want you to rally, but we want to make that it's peaceful. It's a peaceful rally so you can get your voices heard.

GLINTON: Most members of the panel acknowledged that so far there was little they could do to make a change in events. As one congresswoman acknowledged, the panel was really to make sure that Trayvon Martin parents' voices could be heard.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sonari Glinton is a NPR Business Desk Correspondent based at our NPR West bureau. He covers the auto industry, consumer goods, and consumer behavior, as well as marketing and advertising for NPR and Planet Money.
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