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July 17th, 2013
12:50 AM ET

Martin case: What shall I tell my kids?

At the AC360 "Race and Justice" town hall, Charles Blow, Geoffrey Canada, Sunny Hostin and Anna Deavere Smith discussed the difficulty of explaining the Trayvon Martin case to children.

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Brenda Nero

    Justice requires balance–like the scales that represent it.
    This society has never been balanced.
    Therefore, this nation has never been in a position to serve justice.
    This unbalanced, hate-filled, spiritually bankrupt, nation is doomed.

    July 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  2. Ryan

    What do I tell my sons indeed. I am the father of two African America boys. I am caucasion. We adopted our sons and they have been our sons since they were infants. What do I tell my sons to give them the best chance for survival in America? Really, I need to ask that in a 'civilized' Americal today? Unbelievalbe. I am scared for my sons. Shame on us for perpetuating a culture that is so racist.

    July 19, 2013 at 2:49 am |
  3. Pamela Love

    This is for Sunny Hostin, Sunny I am a Black female recently turned 50 and single, working for the Postal Service since 1986 I have 1 son 29 who is married with 2 children and is a police office in the state of Washington. I have served on two Jurys one Civil, one Murder. I followed the Zimmerman trial on CNN and HLN, when I first heard the makeup of the jury- 6 white women? I thought how could the prosecution allow this, this is so so far from being a "Jury of your "piers". But as time passed I listened to you and came around to believe that because many were mothers it was possible on a human level to receive some type of justice for the young man killed. I have now come to a much deeper understanding of race relations in our country, I believe the juror who spoke to Anderson Cooper did not even see Treyvon Martin as human being deserving the same rights as George Zimmerman, I believe she saw a black boy who disobeyed the unidentified white "Man", then when comfronted had the nerve to put up a struggle (not fight for HIS life) and got what he caused, his own death. We are not as far removed from inherent deep seeded racisim as we all hope to believe is not there. The most terrible thing about these women is they are not alone in what the truly believe was justice. I have never written to a news station before but felt compelled to do so here with you, I feel your disappointment in the verdict and with the system but please do not stop doing what you do, I was right there with you in believing in basic human rights were violated and justice would be done. I now have to reaccess where we all are as a people when it comes to race. side note: (My family is of mixed races white and black).

    July 17, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  4. kari

    Nothing has changed in this world, everyday crimes are committed against the innocent whether you are black, white, asian, hispanic, etc. There are public shootings and bombings happening way to often in this country, these are things we need to be worried about. All you can do is try and prepare your kids the best you can, by being honest with your kids about the dangers in our society that they may face. Tell them the same things you always have or should have; be careful, watch the things going on around you, make good choices, surround yourself with the right people, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation seek safety, do not ever confront someone whom may be following you. Maybe Trayvons parents should have explained to him about the stand your ground law and right to defend yourself with deadly force, to tell him not to ever engage with someone not matter who it is, that there is always the possibility that someone could use deadly force. Unfortunately in this day and age it seems as if people are more suspicious and more aggressive, just like driving, you teach your kids not to engage in road rage, you just dont know if that person in the other car is armed or could become aggressive to were you put yourself in danger. Its just about not taking anything for granted and educating your children. There was another black child just killed in his driveway taking out the garbage by and elderly white man, why isnt anyone talking about that?

    July 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  5. Shelly

    First of all, Trayvon was not a child, he was a young man. Tell your kids the TRUTH. Nothing good comes from a physical fight. Physical confrontations are not only unacceptable, but against the law. Everyone must follow the laws. When you break the laws, there is consequences. If you are ever followed and/or afraid, call 911 and go home or to a safe place such as the police dept, or fire dept, friend's house, etc. Always treat others with respect. A note to the parents: Children learn from home first. Be their parent, not their friend. Teach them all the golden rules and follow through with discipline. You can be there for them without condoning bad behavior. Lastly, tell them everyday how much you love them!

    July 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Ron

      Well stated. The parents should have taught him to call the police. He had a cell phone....call 911 !

      July 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  6. dianne

    SO, If my teenage child like Trayvonne is suspended from school, posting stuff on Facebook that may or may not be true and never has been ARRESTED or CHARGED WITH ANY CRIME, should be GUNNED DOWN by someone who in his mind LOOKS like a THREAT to society. And the person that GUNNED HIM, TRAYVONNE DOWN has been in TROUBLE multiply times and because of the connections his FATHER AND UNCLE had with Law Enforcement was never CHARGED with anything. Zimmerman has been getting into TROUBLE for YEARS and only got HAND SLAPS. HE WILL BE BACK

    July 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  7. B. Grinnell

    I am so tired of Anderson and Pier Morgan repeating the same thing over and over all day and night long.
    If you want to have some new material have interviews with Martin's parents, step-mother and his dad's girl friend and her sister. While you are at it tell Sharpton and Jackson to zip their lips also. It is people like you guys that are inciting the riots where many will be killed or injured. You can tell a few White House individuals the same thing while you are at it. I want to puke every time I hear all of your voices. Further get your facts straight before repeating. Trayvon did not purchase ice tea at the 711. He got Watermelon fruit juice and skittles which are both ingredients for the druggy concoction know as Lean. Get copies of his school record.

    July 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  8. Lynn

    I watched the entire trial from beginning to end, so I could understand it as the jury would. I am convinced that race was NOT the cause but TESTOSTERONE was. I also am astounded that the prosecutors did not bring up the way the blood on the back of Zimmerman's head ran towards his face, as if he was on top! If he had been on the bottom, the bleeding would have been smashed or smeared, but it was dripping towards his face. Why were things like this not mentioned? The whole trial smelled rotten, like the politicians just wanted it done to shut the people up, regardless of the evidence. It also seemed the people who worked for the City or the County who testified were angry that the State took the case away and fired the Police Chief. I am a white female, 58 years old, if you are wondering. My father was a police officer when I was younger & politics plays a deep and threatening role in too much of the law. Respectfully, Lynn

    July 17, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  9. Billy Jack

    Two questions need to be answered:
    What actions by Zimmerman justified Martin hitting him once and/or continuing?
    What acttions by Martin justified Zimmerman shooting him?
    Answer these questions and then we may better understand what to tell our children.

    July 17, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  10. Grant Jones

    i think it is a crying shame that it seems that everyone that you are having on your town hall show talk like Zimmerman is guilty. When he has been found innocent by a jury of his peers. It is time to accept the verdict and go on. Everyone that feels he was guilty keep bringing up the race card when no one was present that night to witnees the event and Zimmerman was oviously beaten. It is always groups like the NAACP etc bringing up these race issues.

    July 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  11. Fred Walsh

    Tell them that the definition of Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter did not match the facts in this case. Tell them that Florida needs to rethink their "Stand Your Ground" Law. Tell them that Neighborhood Watch members should consider wearing some sort of vest or jacket identifying themselves as "Neighborhood Watch Security" before following a complete stranger. Tell them that George Zimmerman should have stayed in his car and let the police handle the matter. Tell them a Prosecutor should consider charging a defendant with a lesser crime as well, just in case the jury finds them not guilty of the greater crime if they want them to do time. Tell them that George Zimmerman did not get off "Scott Free" as his life has now changed drastically forever and he has to live with the knowledge that he took a life unnecessarily. Tell them, that if you think someone is following you to get your ass home and not confront them and punch them in the nose (they might just have a gun). Tell them that actions have consequences. Tell them that this whole case is a tragedy that could have been avoided if either person had just walked away.

    July 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • David

      A lot of wisdom in what you say. May I add.........When you live in a state (Florida) that hands out concealed weapons permits to over 1 million people then this type of thing is going to happen. It's incredible that we don't hear about this kind of thing more often from states that have gun laws that make the streets a wild west.

      August 2, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  12. ADK

    Maybe stand up straight, mind your own business, and address others with respect. Oh, and don't assault people. That might help.

    July 17, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  13. Ray Malson

    this is not difficult to understand,, if you attack a neighborhood watch it is likely you will be hurt or in this case killed... as far as the court is concerned everyone followed the law and Zimmerman was found innocent... there is nothing difficult here... the news media is making a big big thing of this ... the trial is over,,, drop it and move on...

    July 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  14. Greg ( Wedding Cake Artist )

    Zimmerman did not identify himself as a neighborhood watch patrol and when he shot him – did not even call for help. Zimmerman was in contact with the police but took it on his own to track this youth down – Jeantel said – Trayvon said got off me twice...Zimmerman is a coward hiding behind the law based on his actions. If Zimmerman had no weapon trust me he would not have followed Trayvon...

    July 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  15. Greg ( Wedding Cake Artist )

    George Zimmerman – went above and beyond because he had a gun and that's why he pursued Trayvon Martin. He followed Trayvon got out of his vehicle against police instructions. He should be held accountable for his actions and poor judgement. He assumed Trayvon was up to know good. George Zimmerman did not have the authority and Trayvon got no justice because these folks were not a jury of his peers only George Zimmerman. Very sad and disappionted. Zimmerman is ignorant and frustrated man and takes his anger out on a teenager.

    July 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  16. Donna Marie Posey

    I think you are absolutely BRILLIANT!! I was born in 1959 and you are my Walter Kronkite.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  17. Garry Jones

    Tell your kids the truth.You live in a country that says you have a right to bear arms,can carry a concealed weapon in public and if you believe you are in danger of bodily harm you can pull out the weapon and use it.Don't be surprised if somebody gets killed.Give your head a shake America and get your gun laws changed.

    July 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  18. CC

    This was the exact question my daughter called me crying with...what do I tell my sons...this is nothing short of heart-breaking!

    July 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  19. jim

    Travon Martin was trespassing in a gated community ,breaking the law and He knew it number 1 . The neighborhood watch captin on duty that night spotted him in the community and called 911. the response was turtle like speed wise . (I believe Travon would be alive today had the police response been swifter as it was after the shot was fired )The 911 operator did advise him to back off but he stayed with the youth .There was a confrontation a shot was fired ,then the police got in a hurry to arrive. As it turns out Travon attacked Zimmerman not the other way around .

    July 17, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  20. Christopher

    Maybe the African American community should do something about the large groups of African Americans running a mock beating and stealing from innocent by standers. They are doing their best to stoke the hatred and mistrust for African Americans. It's sad that a few ruin things for all. Where is the African American leadership?

    July 17, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  21. MICKEY

    Please STOP, all CNN and other News Channels are giving way to much attention to the jury and the Zimmerman case. To me Al Sharpton is rioting up the Black community. I can't stand all of the coverage on this and the same repetion on ever channel over and over again...STOP... I know it big headlines, how about reviewing the case of Autumn Pasquales in Oct. 2012 where two black teens killed a WHITE 12 girl and stuffed her in the garbage. Gee what ever happen to that story! POINT MADE. The Martin are not seeking justice, they are seeking revenge anyway they can get it. LETS MOVE ON CNN. There are other stories to cover.

    July 17, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  22. Matt

    I can see how this is a tough issue. Police brutality and racism is still an issue in this country.It is possible Zimmerman's suspicions were stimulated by race, but that doesn't mean Trayvon has no fault in his death. Telling your kids not to fight back is wrong, but they should be taught to use only as much force as necessary to escape. That's something everyone should understand regardless of age. Lastly, the biggest fault was Zimmerman being tried for second degree murder. If the prosecution would have had better luck convincing a jury to convict him for manslaughter. I think circumstances leading up to the shooting were stimulated by race, but the actual shooting and trial had nothing to do with race.

    July 17, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  23. George cole

    Please help me understand How do you explain 440 African Americans killed in Chicago, killed by African Americans. One non black person who was not guilty and the country goes crazy. Please explain this viewpoint on the show. Thank you

    July 17, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  24. C. Callery

    Even today the press presents the Zimmerman case as the Zimmerman Case. What rights did Treyvon have? What crime did he commit to warrant a capital punishment sentence? We can hardly get a DUI driver involved in a vehicle death a jail sentence in this country. "Stand Your Ground Law", does it only apply to the shooter. Zimmerman was a stranger to Treyvon. Why should Treyvon automatically stop and obey a stranger. Zimmermon was not a law enforcement officer. He did not have the legal right to be detained. Based on the jury's comments they were soooo.. confused, tired and emotional. If they were so confuse they had the right and option to ask for clarity from the court. A dead teenager deserved more time for them to consider his side. He didn't need their emotional drama he deserved their "common sense" approach to law. The incident would not have happened if Zimmerman would have stayed put and let the police do their job. But, more than anything if Zimmerman didn't believe that every African American teen is a potential thief we would not be in this discussion today. Treyvon did nothing wrong except believe he had the right as a U.S. citizen to walk to a store and return safety to his residence without fear of death.

    July 17, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  25. Brian Taylor

    Mr. Cooper, I commend you for the very informative interview with Juror B-37. The interview proved that B-37 is white, a racist, 101% biased. Her opinion was finalized before the trial, therefore we know what her vote would be. She should have never been on that jury. She is a 101% liar. She said she was not fearful, saying that she was being cautious. Just like Mr. Zimmerman, another lie. She didn't want to be seen because she knew that the world would see her as she is, a 101% biased racist. If you feel so strongly about your decision, show yourself. She believed everything Zimmerman said, on his word alone. Trayvon was not allowed to tell his side. She is a shame and disgrace to society.

    July 17, 2013 at 8:50 am |
  26. Lee

    Anderson- why oh why did you give Newt Gingrich a voice on last night's show? It is obvious he is trying to capitalize on the Trayvon Martin tragedy with a whole new Newt – freedom fighter and humanitarian. If you think your audience was shocked at his absurdly convenient new viewpoint, just imagine how your viewers felt when he popped up on screen.

    July 17, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  27. Madinah

    Tell the children the truth that in this is a time of awaking of the dead black minds that has been asleep for hundredths of years in America (it is the end).

    July 17, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  28. Hughes Daniels

    I think that because of the fact that Zimmerman was half white and half hispanic, the jurors was catered to himself. Also the prosecution was too weak and lenient: not to mention the fact that Michael Vick received greater condemmation over killing a dog than Zimmerman did for killing Trayvon Martin. This alone tells America that racism is still alive and festering.

    July 17, 2013 at 7:41 am |
  29. Fernand R.

    What a tragic "conversation" CNN is hosting, one that will further polarize the nation.
    Let's start with the claim that African Americans are routinely "profiled" by police, and brutalized. Agreed! And that our courts and prison system abuse African Americans at every turn. Agreed! And that the "war on drugs" is a travesty, an instrument of racial and class warfare. Agreed!
    BUT what on earth does all this have to do with George Zimmerman? Skittles or no Skittles, hoodie or no hoodie, if Mr Martin unilaterally beat Zimmermann, as the evidence very strongly suggests, Zimmerman didn't have to be a racist to defend himself. That's not an "expansion" of self-defense laws. Why is this jury's difficult decision paraded as an example of racism? Why are we being conned into having to choose sides again? And why is CNN encouraging such extremist views?

    July 17, 2013 at 6:21 am |
  30. David

    Sad to say that If I had a black child in this country I would probably be afraid to raise him here. Not that that'll happen because I'm a middle aged white guy, but nevertheless, things have to change. I think the best tribute we can give this young man is to continue to discuss this problem and move forward.

    July 17, 2013 at 5:59 am |
  31. cassandra

    really, who are you kidding, white kids are brutalized all the time by black youth. Mine were only 9 and 13 the first time they were attacked in our park. Stomped, punched and traumatized. Their crime was being white.

    July 17, 2013 at 4:58 am |
  32. RogerM

    Why is it that EVERY liberal media "host", INCLUDING Anderson Cooper doesn't ask the SIMPLE QUESTION of why didn't Trayvon Martin drop the call with his girlfriend and CALL 911? Why didn't he call his father?
    And why aren't they stating the FACTS that blacks murdered in this country are murdered by blacks in at least NINETY TWO PERCENT of the cases? And why aren't you calling these race baiters and hate mongerers that keep claiming that it's "open season on blacks" when blacks are murdered by whites, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans in LESS THAN TEN PERCENT of all black murders?
    People like Anderson Cooper and "journalists" like him have NO ETHICS and no intellectual HONESTY of any kind whatsoever.
    And as for what to tell your kids, how about what people tell TEN YEAR OLDS?? You know, GET AWAY, CALL THE POLICE, GET HELP, and don't think you are some kind of gangsta wannabe that can beat up a "creepy ass cracka". Our kids KNEW long before they were teenagers to AVOID STRANGERS, not confront them. They KNEW to CALL POLICE, or their PARENTS, or to simply KNOCK ON A DOOR and ask for help.
    They didn't have the mindset stated by one of the idiots on Anderson Cooper that said basically the police can't be trusted. What a load of putrid sewage!!!!
    Apparently Anderson Cooper's guests are TOO STUPID to think of this.

    July 17, 2013 at 4:43 am |
  33. Abrigal Forrester

    Trayvon's death is a rude awakening for the black middle class as well. This case has brought them back to the reality that; with all they may have thought, they have done to escape the possibility of their children being victims of gun violence, they are still subject to the suffering, and the challenges black people face as a whole.

    July 17, 2013 at 2:50 am |
  34. Abrigal Forrester

    What do we do: begin to address the social constructs that continue to present black males as crime driven males, who are first evil, and not innocent and good.

    Starting with with the industries that have created millionaires out of black boys who will promote the dehumanizing agenda of black males.

    July 17, 2013 at 2:31 am |
    • T HENRY

      Very well said and true Abrigal!

      July 18, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  35. Bonnie

    Interesting that we keep talking about how the jury couldn't identify with Trayvon Martin because they're all white, or women, or of a different social class. But I haven't heard anyone talk about the fact that NO ONE in that court room (from the judge to the prosecutors to the defendants) were black either. So who, in that whole room, was actually able to empathize with this young, black, teenager? Who was qualified to speak for him? How was the whitebjury supposed to identify with Trayvon when the whole process was run by a gang of middle/upper class white folk?

    July 17, 2013 at 2:27 am |
  36. Abrigal Forrester

    Here is what is sad to me: The influence of race has an impact on the most intellectual folks amongst us black people in America. We have allowed our black boys to be dehumanized in the media everyday, through music and tv. Trayvon's death is also a responsibility we as black people in America must bare. Millions of black boys are dying everyday to gun violence, and we decide that we only need to step up on the issue of our boys dying when a white man kills one of them.

    Shame on us!

    The system will not allow others to get away with killing our boys, when we value them enough to represent the crisis of them dying, even when it is at the hands of their own kind.

    If we don't hold ourselves accountable to value the lives of our black and brown boys, why should anyone else.

    I shed a tear and I am frustrated even when our boys die in our streets everyday at the hands of other black boys, who to have a lack of appreciation for who they are, to the point where they would take the life, with ease, of someone who looks like them.

    We need to do a 360 degree look at how we have allowed this crime to be justified in the minds of people who have no other connection to the value of black boys, beyond seeing them as a criminal.

    July 17, 2013 at 2:20 am |
  37. Cindy Wayne

    As much as I love your show, tonight's episode What shall I tell my children? really disturbed me. Ms Davis referred to an all white women jury when in fact, there WAS a black woman on that jury. It was also determined by both Ms Rachel Janteel and Tracy Martin's girlfriend that Trayvon made it home. So the "What shall you tell your children? Start off by saying do NOT go back into that situation to confront anyone following you. Also continue to tell them not to speak to strangers. I do not believe that this murder was justified but I also do not believe that sensationalizing this case without the correct facts are doing anything more than hurting all of us as a nation.

    July 17, 2013 at 2:07 am |
  38. BG

    Town hall was disgusting. Interview with the juror was very enthralling, but using the race card after the jury said it was not an issue is appalling to me. Ratings, ratings, ratings I guess....

    July 17, 2013 at 1:56 am |
  39. Lamia

    Anderson, you are doing a good job focusing on race issues in the US. What we have is institutionalized racism in the US-in the criminal justice system such as the police, courts, etc. It would help your program if you included police officers in your program since they're the ones stopping young black men on "suspicion." The conversation has to take place among the different actors involved in these cases.

    July 17, 2013 at 1:49 am |
  40. Todd

    Tell your kids that the Stand Your Ground law worked!!! Remember it applies to everyone. I will Never give up my right to self- defense. Someone please show me where it says the stand your ground law is for whites only.

    July 17, 2013 at 1:17 am |
  41. Nicole

    First of all, everyone keep saying that George Zimmerman was in fear of his life. I cannot accept that. He was the one with the gun. When George followed Trayvon like he was a criminal, well Trayvon was scare. When Trayvon took off running and George ran after him. I believe George stop Trayvon from getting away and when Trayvon was yelling for help, George made sure that he will not live to tell what really happen. George could have beat his own self so it would look like Trayvon did it. The jury has said that George was tired of them getting away. George was wrong and I do not believe that Trayvon beat him, Trayvon was trying to get away from him and he shot him. No blood or anything was on Trayvon's hands. The few mintues that the lawyers could not give an account of is because George was setting up everything to look like Trayvon beat him. George knows what happen and God knows what happen and his consicous will be his worst nightmare. Lea

    July 17, 2013 at 1:08 am |

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