CLEVELAND – The mother of a Florida teen, whose death sparked a national debate, said here in Cleveland that more needs to be done to improve relations between police departments and the communities they serve.
Sybrina Fulton spoke at the Cleveland Public Library.
Back in 2012, her family was tragically thrust into the spotlight when her son, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed in Florida by a neighborhood watchman named George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman acknowledged shooting Martin, but said he did so in self-defense.
The case brought national attention to Florida’s so-called “stand you ground” law – which basically said that people had the right to “stand their ground” and not retreat from a confrontation.
Zimmerman had called 9-1-1, reporting Martin as being suspicious, and was told not to get out of his car.
Moments later, Martin had been shot dead.
Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense, and, in 2013, a Florida jury found him not guilty of either murder or manslaughter.
In Cleveland, Sybrina Fulton said she has become good friends with Tamir Rice’s mother.
Tamir Rice was 12 years-old when he was shot and killed by Cleveland police last November.
Police mistook his airsoft pistol for a real gun.
Talking about police/community relations, Fulton says, “I think it’s going to take work on both ends.”
“Not only are we going to re-program our young people that not all police officers are bad,” she says, ” but we want to try to re-program our police that not everybody is a criminal..”
Fulton says it was the Tamir Rice shooting that led her to pay a visit to Cleveland.
She adds that she and Tamir’s mother, Samaria, have taken part together in speaking engagements across the country.