More than eight years after her 17-year-old son was fatally shot while walking home from a convenience store, wearing a hoody with Skittles in his pockets, Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton has opened up following the police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who repeatedly said "I can't breathe" as now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
During a recent interview with ABC News, Fulton said that she's been "on a rollercoaster" since seeing the distressing footage of Floyd's death. "I've been up and down. There have been times when I just cried," she said. "When I heard George Floyd yell out for his mother, I cried because I imagined me being his mother, or my son being there and calling out for me and I wasn't able to help him and he wasn't able to help himself."
"It has been an emotional rollercoaster, I'm sure, for every mom hearing George call out for his mom," she continued.
Fulton's 17-year-old son was killed on Feb. 25, 2012 in Sanford, Florida when former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman fatally shot him. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for Martin's death, but went on to be acquitted of all charges, claiming he acted in self-defense, NPR reported in 2013. In the years since, Martin's mother has been working to bring awareness to end gun violence, starting with the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Fulton is now a candidate for the Miami-Dade County Commissioner.
While speaking about Floyd's killing on May 25 with ABC News this week, Fulton empathized with people's anger and encouraged protestors to "stay focused."
"Everything that's going on now, we've just got to stay focused on what's going on ... that it was a loss of life," she said. "I appreciate the peaceful protests, I really do. I think they are sick and tired. We all are sick and tired. What we witnessed last Monday was simply disgusting and inhumane."
"People just have to have a way to express themselves and that's how they feel that they are expressing themselves," she continued. "You're going to have some people that are protesting peacefully, and you're going to have some rioters ... it depends on how angry you are and how severely this has hit you."
Fulton also reflected on Floyd's death in an emotional Instagram post on Sunday. "For every Mother, when #GeorgeFloyd yelled out for his Mom, it broke our heart," she wrote.
"And if you have a son or daughter in heaven, it hit differently," Fulton wrote on Instagram, adding the hashtags #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd, #ICantBreathe, and #CircleOfMothers.
The four officers involved in Floyd's arrest — Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao — were all fired the day Floyd's death. Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder and the other three officers remain under investigation, according to The New York Times.
Moving forward, Fulton called on others to take action. "If you see someone doing wrong and you're not doing anything about it, you are a part of the problem," she told ABC News. That's why they're crying out for the other officers to be arrested. Because they feel that those officers are a part of the problem. And they are."