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March 28th, 2012
02:17 PM ET

Rep. Maxine Waters says it's clear Trayvon Martin shooting was a hate crime

On "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) explains why she believes the Trayvon Martin shooting was a hate crime.

Waters was joined by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) responds to criticism that black leaders are exploiting the Trayvon Martin case. He says the country has to address its 'low esteem' for black life.

Filed under: Justice • Race • Trayvon Martin
March 28th, 2012
06:04 AM ET

Sneak peek: What to expect from Soledad O'Brien's town hall special "Beyond Trayvon: Race and Justice in America" airing Friday, March 30th at 8pm ET

Can justice be fair? Can justice be blind?

The killing of 17-year-old Florida high school student, Trayvon Martin, has captivated the nation. Over the last few weeks, we've brought you many angles of the story on "Starting Point."

We heard from Trayvon's parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, who said they just want justice for their son. We heard from special prosecutor Angela Corey, who said she would investigate every angle in the shooting. Soledad spoke with Rep. Corrine Brown, who says the Justice Department should investigate it as a hate crime.

She also spoke with Joe Oliver, friend of shooter George Zimmerman, who said his friend told him more details about the shooting and alluded to the gun 'going off,' maybe not intentionally. And we looked at the bigger conversation on race and perception in the U.S., and talked about the fear that black men face walking down the street every day.

Trayvon's death has created an undeniable and important dialogue in this country, and now Soledad will bring all these elements together in a town hall on Friday to look at where we go from here.

In the video above, Soledad previews her special "Beyond Trayvon: Race and Justice in America." The special will air Friday at 8pm Eastern on CNN.

Filed under: Race • Trayvon Martin
March 27th, 2012
03:44 PM ET

Senate chaplain Barry Black on 'putting up' with racism, explains how Trayvon Martin story reminds him of his experience

Senate chaplain Barry Black tells Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" about the underlying anger felt by African-American males for putting up with racism in U.S. He also explains how the Trayvon Martin story reminded him of experiencing discrimination in his life.

Filed under: Race • Trayvon Martin
March 27th, 2012
03:35 PM ET

'Character assassination' for Trayvon? Roland Martin on family's concern over new allegations of teen's behavior

CNN contributor Roland Martin on his conversation with the Trayvon Martin family and Trayvon's school suspension.

Filed under: Race • Trayvon Martin
March 27th, 2012
11:42 AM ET

Zimmerman's friend alludes to gun 'going off,' investigator responds saying accidental misfire being investigated as well

What happened the night Trayvon Martin was shot and killed? There's new information painting two very different pictures of the confrontation and the men involved, making the case more complicated by the day.

CNN is learning Trayvon Martin had been suspended from school after marijuana residue was found in his book bag. We're also getting George Zimmerman's account of what happened that night. According to the "Orlando Sentinel," citing a leaked police report, Zimmerman told police he lost sight of Martin and was returning to his SUV when Martin approached him. The two exchanged words, then Martin is accused of punching and climbing on top of Zimmerman, slamming his head into the ground. That account in addition to what neighbors report happening are only complicating the case.

This morning on "Starting Point," Soledad talks with Zimmerman's friend Joe Oliver, who said he recently spoke with Zimmerman who shared more details about what happened that night.

"I spoke with George yesterday as a matter of fact and was able to get some more details about what happened," Oliver says. "The report that was released yesterday is what George told me, what happened, where the report stops he filled in the blanks for me as well. And unfortunately at this time I'm not able to discuss that, but basically it fills in the gap between what happened when Trayvon and George came face-to-face and by the time the gun went off."

That particular line, that the gun "went off" caught panelist Will Cain's ear, who wondered if that meant that Zimmerman would potentially argue that the gun discharged on its own.

Later in the show Soledad talks with Martin case special prosecutor Angela Corey, who is handling the investigation into the shooting. Soledad asks Corey about Oliver's statement and whether investigators are looking into an accidental shooting.

"We look into that in every shooting case," Corey says. "We do extensive investigation and test the firearm for trigger pull, functionality, and everything."

See clips from the interview below.


Trayvon shooter 'extremely remorseful'

Joe Oliver, Zimmerman's friend, says that George has been receiving treatment for post traumatic stress and depression.


Zimmerman friend talks 'racist' 911 call

Joe Oliver, Zimmerman's friend, weighs in on the debate over the potential racial slur in George's 911 phone call.


Martin shooter 'tried to do right thing'

Joe Oliver, friend of Trayvon Martin shooter, explains why he volunteered to come to Zimmerman's defense.


Martin investigator looks at all angles

Special prosecutor Angela Corey explains the latest in the investigation into the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Filed under: Race • Trayvon Martin
March 23rd, 2012
11:57 AM ET

Rep. Wilson on rallies in support of Trayvon Martin, says "We need to make this a better country for little black boys"

The calls for justice are growing louder after the killing of 17-year old Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a local neighborhood watch captain.

Strong emotions have taken over the nation, spawning rallies from Los Angeles, to St. Louis, and it came home last night to Sanford, Florida.

Thousands gathered not far from where Trayvon was shot on Feb. 26th, returning home with a bag of candy and an iced tea when he was shot dead. That gathering took place just hours after Sanford's Police Chief temporarily stepped aside, but did not step down.

This morning on "Starting Point" Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL) talks about the rallies spreading across the country, and says people need to take this moment of emotion and turn it into something good.

"We need to make this a better country for little black boys," Wilson says.

She also says racial profiling is a reality for many young black men on a daily basis in the U.S.,that that Sanford Police Chief Lee should be fired.


Wilson: Police Chief Lee should be fired

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) says more needs to be done to investigate the Trayvon Martin case.


Rep. Wilson: Life in U.S. for black boys

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Marc Lamont Hill on the fear African-American boys and men face in the United States.


Rep. Wilson: Race profiling occurs daily

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) on how racial profiling could be at play in the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Filed under: Race • Trayvon Martin
March 22nd, 2012
02:20 PM ET

A conversation on race and perception:’s Michael Skolnik on 'Million Hoodie March,' racial issues surrounding Trayvon Martin shooting

As the Trayvon Martin case continues to evolve, each day comes with more fallout in the story.

The latest: The Sanford community is turning on Police Chief Bill Lee, after 17-year-old Martin was killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. Overnight, after a rising tide of criticism, the Sanford City Commissioners voted 3 to 2 that they had no confidence in Lee, who has been on the job less than a year. At the same time, that national outcry of anger over the shooting is growing. Yesterday in Sanford, the NAACP held a forum for residents to complain about alleged abuse by the Sanford Police. Last night in New York City, Trayvon's parents joined a "Million Hoodie March" demanding that shooter George Zimmerman be arrested.

Today, Rev. Al Sharpton will lead a rally in Sanford, the Orlando suburb where Martin was shot. Later this afternoon, Justice Department officials will meet with the family of Trayvon Martin. And affiliate reports in Florida say school kids in Carroll City Senior High School in Miami have staged a walkout over the Trayvon Martin shooting.

This morning on Starting Point,'s Michael Skolnik talks about harnessing the power of social media to organize the 'Million Hoodie March.' He also had a frank discussion with our panelists Will Cain, Ryan Lizza and John Fugelsang about the racial issues surrounding the shooting.

"What's inspiring about our generation is that we now have the ability to organize ourselves," Skolnik says. "We can go to Twitter. We go to Facebook. We can go to YouTube. And we can start talking to each other and saying, look, we want to talk about this issue now. We don't have to wait for traditional media to talk about it. We don't have to wait for other folks to talk about it. We want to talk about it."

The conversation quickly turned to the racial issues surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting, and whether it was a motivator behind Zimmerman's actions. Skolnik asserts that there's a perception problem in the U.S., where if an African-American male is seen in a hoodie, he may be immediately perceived as a threat.

Will Cain chimed in on the conversation, mentioning that another CNN contributor, Roland Martin, wondered off-air why white commentators aren't speaking out on the race issue in the Trayvon case. Cain asks, "I'm white. I'm a commentator, what do you want me to say right now?"

"What I want you to say is there is a problem in this country," Skolnik said. "It's an epidemic that young black men and young Latino men are being killed at a record rate. So, let's first recognize the problem. They say there is a problem."

In response to the conversation, CNN anchor Don Lemon wrote to the "Starting Point" staff, saying the message of the conversation resonated with him, and said it's not just young black men who are the subject of misperception.

"I'm 46 and it still happens to me," Lemon writes. "Headed to the gym now wearing sweats and a hoodie and people will flinch and grab their purses as I walk by. And that fear carries over into the workplace with perceived 'angry black man' syndrome. My frankness means I'm angry. Will Cain's frankness means he tells it like it is. It's real folks."

"Regardless of what happens with the Martin case, profiling is a very real, uncomfortable problem for America," Lemon adds. "Honestly many whites don't see it because they don't have to. They don't live it."

Join the conversation and share in the comments below.

Filed under: Race • Social media • Trayvon Martin
March 12th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

A lesson on critical race theory

Emory University's Dorothy Brown explains the details of critical race theory.

Filed under: Race
March 8th, 2012
09:49 AM ET

Racial motive behind Breitbart tape release of Obama?'s Joel Pollack explains

Actor Jay Thomas asks Breitbart's Joel Pollak why the site released a Harvard-era videotape of President Obama.

See more from the segment below.

Filed under: Politics • Race
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