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Mothers of Trayvon Martin and Leslie Prater come to UD for talk on police violence

Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
Loretta Prater (middle) and Sybrina Fulton (right) talk with UD Women and Gender Studies Professor Emerald Christopher.

The mothers of Trayvon Martin and Leslie Prater, two men killed by police or a police surrogate, visited the University of Delaware to talk about police violence.

Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton and Prater’s mother Loretta Prater recounted their experiences with police and media after the death of their sons. Prater says it took days before she was able to see her child’s body, and that police lied about the condition of the body .

She points out the manner in which George Floyd died – by asphyxiation – was similar to her son’s death, but social media wasn’t around to create as strong of a pushback as it did for Martin.

Fulton says that young people led the movement for her son.

“During the time that Trayvon was shot and killed, we had a lot of support from social media, which is mostly young people," Fulton says. "And the young people put on their hoodies, they marched, they rallied, they took pictures, they posted, they got the word out. It was the colleges and universities that started the movement with us.”

Fulton adds she never imagined having to live with a hole in her heart – and Prater says although it’s been 19 years since her son was killed, it feels like only 19 days.

Both mothers emphasize they are not anti-police, but believe officers should be held accountable for the laws they enforce too.

Prater says she believes there are virtuous officers, but some she calls fake.

“They have the label, they wear the uniform, they have the badge, the gun and all the other accessories, but they are not public servants," she says. "And the four people who killed my son, he was not trying to hurt anyone and he was not armed, he was not trying to hurt them, but they stole his life anyways.”

She adds there are many Black victims of police violence who did what they were “supposed to” when stopped by police, and were still injured or killed – like 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was shot for playing with a toy gun on a playground.

Fulton says her son, who was wearing a hoodie and was carrying candy and a soda, was no match for a 28-year-old with a loaded gun, who she notes was not a police officer, but a member of a neighborhood watch group.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.