MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A South Florida mother who knows the pain of losing a son firsthand has written an open letter in support of the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO earlier this month.
Sybrina Fulton buried her own son, Trayvon Martin, in 2012 after he was shot an killed by George Zimmerman.
“It’s hurtful. People say we know how you feel. They really don’t know how you feel unless you’ve been here,” Fulton told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana. “I personally think that as a human being Michael Brown deserved to live.”
Brown’s death has sparked outrage and passionate, sometimes violent, protests, as well as a militarized response from law enforcement.
While she recognizes the differences between the two shootings and admits the investigation is ongoing in Ferguson, Fulton said the case strikes a familiar chord.
“They both were unarmed. They were both teenagers. They both were African Americans and the both were shot and killed by a non-African American,” Fulton said.
Fulton penned an open letter to Brown’s family, published on TIME.com, which read, in part, “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.”
On Tuesday night, she joined community leaders at the Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Miami for a gun violence forum, where attendees prayed for peace.
Fulton is calling on pastors in Ferguson to help the keep the rallies and protests peaceful and purposeful.
For now, she’ll watch from a distance, as some of the images are just too much to bear as she continues to adjust to life without her son.
“It actually gets to me because it just opens up old wounds,” she said.
Fulton continues to spread her anti-violence message through the Trayvon Martin Foundation, which she created in memory of her son. For more information, visit TrayvonMartinFoundation.org.