- The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner meet
- Martin’s mother: All four victims were unarmed and African-American
- If Garner were white, he would be alive today, his mother says
Watch Anderson Cooper’s full interview with the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner on AC360 tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
The mothers of these four unarmed black men and boys felled by bullets or excessive police force have no doubt their sons would still be alive if they were white. No question, they say.
“I think absolutely my son’s race and the color of his skin had a lot to do with why he was shot and killed,” Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday. “In all of these cases, these victims were unarmed. These victims were African-American. That needs to be our conversation.”
In their first interview together, Fulton was joined by Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden; Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice; and Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr. They spoke of reliving the horrific final moments of their son’s lives with each controversial death, of gaining strength from protesters and other supporters, of the importance of coming together to effect change.
Carr said she had confidence in a federal investigation into whether her son’s civil rights were violated. A Staten Island grand jury last week refused to indict a white police officer in the death of her son, was put in a fatal chokehold by the officer as he tried to arrest Garner for illegally selling cigarettes.
“If Eric Garner was a white man in Suffolk County doing the same thing that he was doing — even if he would have been caught selling cigarettes that day — they would have given him a summons and he wouldn’t have lost his life that day,” she said. “I believe that 100 percent.”
Fulton’s son was shot and killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watch captain. The case quickly drew national attention as weeks went by without formal charges. Demonstrations followed Zimmerman’s acquittal even though some people around the country supported Zimmerman’s actions.
“It’s not happening to them, so they don’t quite get it,” she said. “They don’t quite understand. They think that it’s a small group of African-Americans that’s complaining. …The people say that all the time: ‘What are they complaining about now? What are they protesting about now?'”
To those people, Fulton said: “Until it happens to them and in their family then they’ll understand the walk. They don’t understand what we’re going through. They don’t understand the life and they don’t understand what we’re fighting against. I don’t even think the government quite gets it.”
President Barack Obama publicly addressed the Martin case, as he did last summer’s shooting of Brown — an unarmed teenager shot to death by white police Officer Darren Wilson. A St. Louis County grand jury declined to bring charges against the officer, leading to days of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
The death of Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot last month by a Cleveland officer after police allegedly mistook the child’s air gun for a real firearm, has also drawn national attention. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said Friday it has ruled the death a homicide.
“I think this is shedding light to what’s going on,” Fulton said of the protest movement that has risen out of the tragedies.”This is not something new. It’s been happening. … But it’s just been bringing light to what’s happening. It’s bringing it to the forefront which is why there’s so much conversations. … Because people are now realizing … it’s not just about African-American rights … it’s about human rights.”
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