Michael Brown shooting: Trayvon Martin's mother writes letter to family of 18-year-old gunned down in Ferguson
'But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain'
The mother of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot dead in 2012, has written a letter to the family of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose shooting by a police officer has sparked days of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
In the letter, published in Time, Sybrina Fulton offers to “share my continuing journey as you begin yours” and expresses her “hate” for the fact that Brown’s relatives “must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence”.
Ms Fulton writes: “I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t. I wish I could say that it will be alright on a certain or specific day but I can’t. I wish that all of the pain that I have endured could possibly ease some of yours but it won’t.”
Police and protesters have clashed almost nightly in the US city since the black teenager was shot by police officer Darren Wilson, 26, on 9 August. The shooting heightened racial tensions between the predominantly black community and the mostly white Ferguson Police Department.
Civil rights activists have compared the shooting to other racially charged cases, particularly the death of Martin - the unarmed black teenager was shot by neighbourhood watch organizer George Zimmerman, who was later acquitted of murder.
17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a family photo In her letter Ms Fulton focuses on all young victims of gun violence and emphasises the need to seek justice “regardless of race, ethnicity or gender”.
She writes: “Our children are our future so whenever any of our children – black, white, brown, yellow, or red – are taken from us unnecessarily, it causes a never-ending pain that is unlike anything I could have imagined experiencing.
Video: Police fire tear gas at protesters
“Further complicating the pain and loss in this tragedy is the fact that the killer of your son is alive, known, and currently free. In fact, he is on paid administrative leave.”
Brown’s family have called for the arrest of Wilson and their plea has been echoed by many of those participating in the protests. Police have said the teenager was fatally shot after what officers say was an altercation.
An autopsy found that Brown was shot six times – twice in the head – with eye-witnesses claiming that the teenager had had his hands above his head at the time he was killed.
18-year old Michael Brown Ms Fulton adds in her letter: “I will support you and your efforts to seek justice for your Michael and the countless other Michaels & Trayvons of our country. The 20 Sandy Hook children. Jordan Davis. Oscar Grant. Kendrick Johnson. Sean Bell. Hadya Pendleton. The Aurora shooting victims.
“The list is too numerous to adequately mention them all. According to The Children’s Defense Fund, gun violence is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-19. That is a horrible fact.”
She closes the letter with a vow to pursue change, writing: But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain.”
“I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…”
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