CLEARWATER —The two officials with power to arrest and charge the man who killed Markeis McGlockton during an argument over a convenience store parking spot last month were not sitting in the pews at St. John Primitive Baptist Church on Sunday.
But national civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton had a clear message for Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, State Attorney Bernie McCabe and defenders of the Stand Your Ground law that has so far protected shooter Michael Drejka from arrest.
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"If you got to the scene, Mr. Sheriff, and Markeis had been standing over the white man, you would have cuffed him and taken him in jail," Sharpton said to a roaring audience. "The state attorney ought to move forward because you have probable cause."
"(Drejka) killed an unarmed black man who was standing up for his family. Lock him up, or give up your badge."
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As about 400 people sat in the sweltering chapel Sunday, often jumping to their feet with applause, Sharpton condemned the 13-year-old law, which allows people to assert a "stand your ground" defense if they fear serious injury or death, for its disproportionate impact on people of color.
He was joined by the parents of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012 who used the Stand Your Ground defense to avoid conviction.
And before Sharpton addressed the audience, all five Democratic candidates for governor and attorney general candidate Sean Shaw took to the pulpit one by one and vowed to repeal the law if elected, drawing roars from the audience.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Martin’s parents and is now working with local counsel for McGlockton’s family, explained how the law disproportionately protects white shooters because "when black people make a stand your ground argument, it’s from inside a jail cell."