The mother of Trayvon Martin has written an open letter of support to the parents of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose killing at the hands of a white police officer, Darren Wilson, has touched off days of violent protests and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri — and drawn comparisons to Martin's killing.
"I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t," Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, writes in the letter. "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."
Martin, a 17-year-old unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Florida, on Feb. 26, 2012, sparking demonstrations around the country. Zimmerman, who said he acted in self-defense, was later acquitted of second-degree murder charges.
"I hate that you and your family must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence," Fulton wrote. "But Michael is much more than a police/gun violence case; Michael is your son. A son that barely had a chance to live. 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."
The letter comes a day after Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, called for Wilson's arrest, telling ABC's "Good Morning America" that the officer should be held "accountable for his actions."
"Further complicating the pain and loss in this tragedy is the fact that the killer of your son is alive, known, and currently free," Fulton continued. "In fact, he is on paid administrative leave. Your own feelings will bounce between sorrow and anger."
Fulton urged the Brown family to ignore the theories about their son's killing:
Facts, myths, and flat out lies are already out there in Michael’s case. Theories, regardless of how ridiculous, are being pondered by the pundits. My advice is to surround yourselves with proven and trusted support. Through it all, I never let go of my faith, my family, or my friends. Long after the overwhelming media attention is gone, you will need those three entities to find your ‘new normal.’ Honor your son and his life, not the circumstances of his alleged transgressions. I have always said that Trayvon was not perfect. But no one will ever convince me that my son deserved to be stalked and murdered. No one can convince you that Michael deserved to be executed.
Beyond some circumstances related to the killings, there is a tangible connection between the Brown and Martin families: Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented Fulton and the Martin family, is representing the Brown family.
Fulton concluded her letter with a message of hope:
Know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain. The galvanizations of our communities must be continued beyond the tragedies. While we fight injustice, we will also hold ourselves to an appropriate level of intelligent advocacy. If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us. Some will mistake that last statement as being negatively provocative. But feeling us means feeling our pain; imagining our plight as parents of slain children. We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light.