- (Photo: Reuters)
The parents of black teenager Trayvon Martin, the victim of the February 2012 fatal shooting, said as Christians they must forgive George Zimmerman even though they are disappointed by the jury's decision acquitting him of second-degree murder and manslaughter. But they are "not there yet."
"As Christians we have to forgive," Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, told BBC in an interview Saturday, sitting by Tracy Martin, the victim's father. "But it's a process, and we are still going through that healing process."
She added they were "still in the process of forgiveness." "We know it's coming but we're just not there yet."
Tracy Martin said during NBC's "Today Show" last month, "I think that the forgiveness is like a healing process. Forgiveness takes time. The Bible says you have to forgive and forget but the healing process is a long process and forgiveness is a long process."
On July 13, a jury of six women acquitted neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman. In February 2012, Zimmerman, whose parents are white and Hispanic, shot 17-year-old Martin. Many believed the killing was racially motivated, but Zimmerman said the shooting was in self-defense.
Martin's parents do not agree with the jury's decision. "We've said the verdict will not define Trayvon's life," Fulton told BBC. "We are just committed to change, to being some type of positive influence."
The parents want the laws on self-defense to change. "We certainly have a long way to go, because when we have teenagers that are not safe walking down the street and you have laws that will justify somebody taking their life, that means we have a lot of work to do," Fulton said.
Tracy Martin said the family did not make it a race issue. "Had George Zimmerman been an African-American man, we still would be seeking the same justice as we would in this case. Race did play an issue. But we didn't make it a race issue. Never once."
After the shooting last February, President Barack Obama said, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon Martin."
Recently, Obama went on to say, "Trayvon Martin could've been me 35 years ago," as he spoke about his own experiences and those of other African Americans, speaking to reporters at the White House.
Tracy Martin told BBC he was thankful to Obama. "Looking through our eyes, this is coming from the most influential man on the planet. Whether he's African-American or not, just to have the president of this great nation to put Trayvon in text, it feels good."
Many churches and Christians responded to Martin's death last year by going to church in hooded sweatshirts, showing solidarity with Martin, who wore one when he was killed.