Led by local officials, nearly 200 protestors rallied at the Capitol Wednesday, using the Trayvon Martin case to highlight problems in the state’s justice system, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and racial profiling.
Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, led the group in chants of “I am Trayvon Martin” and “No justice, no peace!”
The rally, organized by the National Christian League of Councils, was one of dozens that have taken place in the months since Trayvon, an unarmed teenager, was shot dead in Sanford. Last month, a group of criminal defense attorneys converged on Gov. Rick Scott's office to protest the fact that Trayvon's shooter, George Zimmerman, was not arrested.
“But for the grace of God, Trayvon could have been my son,” said John Marks, mayor of Tallahassee. “We’re not here to try [Zimmerman] in the streets or through the press. We just want the justice system to work as it should.”
Former Florida Sen. Al Lawson said it is time to repeal the Stand Your Ground law, which allows people in danger to respond with deadly force.
“The law was passed for the National Rifle Association,” said Lawson. “I voted for the bill. It was a mistake.”
The group had harsh words for the Sanford Police Department as well.
“One of the things that upsets me the most is that the cover-up is almost worse than the crime,” said Williams, who was wearing a hoodie.
The rally came just an hour before Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll was scheduled to meet with Rev. Dr. RB Holmes, pastor of Tallahassee's Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Carroll and Holmes are the chair and vice chair of a task force put together by Scott to investigate the Stand Your Ground law.
The task force will begin in earnest after the investigation into the Trayvon shooting is complete.
Frustrated by what he called "stalling" by Scott, Sen. Chris Smith has created a task force to look into Stand Your Ground, and scheduled the first meeting for Thursday.