The Conversation

Martin Family Atty: 'We don't believe the focus was really race"

Thursday night Anderson Cooper interviewed Daryl Parks, an attorney representing the Martin family. Parks told Cooper "We don't believe the focus was really race." This is very much at odds with statements Parks made last year comparing Martin's death to that of Emmett Till. Here is the exchange from CNN [video below]:

Anderson Cooper: You gave a press conference after court today where you said that the Martin family wanted to make it clear that "race was not a part of this process." But a lot of the prosecution's opening statement was about George Zimmerman profiling Trayvon Martin.

Daryl Parks: Well Anderson I think you have to distinguish that. When you have a situation where we see that George Zimmerman is talking in the 911 tape and describing what he was seeing in Trayvon Martin and calling him suspicious. We don't believe the focus was really race. Additionally the charge that he is facing has nothing to do with race.

Parks goes on to say "For purposes of where we are now, we're in a court case. Bringing race into this situation does nothing but make people pick sides and invoke some prejudice into the proceedings. We don't want that."

This is a long way from statements Parks himself made last year in an interview he gave to the National Association of Black Journalists. At the time he described the shooting as tragic for "every black person who lives in America" and went on to compare Trayvon to Emmett Till:

Even without hate crime charges, Parks said it’s clear that race played a role in Trayvon’s killing and that the family believes Sanford police actively covered up the racial component to protect Zimmerman.

"Trayvon’s situation is very tragic for this family and, I think, for every black person who lives in America,” Parks said. "We all know many situations where the person of color was not given the benefit of the doubt. That’s a subtlety in America that a lot of people don’t talk about.”

[...]

Park said Trayvon’s killing, which has prompted a national dialogue on racial profiling in the U.S., is reminiscent of the historic case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy killed in 1955 after allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. Till’s death and the choice of his mother to have his casket open during the funeral prompted a national effort to eliminate Jim Crow laws. 

"Most of us, especially those of us who live in the South, can clearly identify with this type of interaction with the police.” Parks said. "It’s not too often that we as African Americans get to help America with its conscious just a little bit. This is our opportunity.


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