Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at a "Justice for Trayvon" rally on the steps of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Tampa Saturday afternoon.
The rally was among the hundreds that went on throughout the country, including two others in the Bay Area; one in St. Petersburg and another in Sarasota. Organizers called on supporters to pressure the Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, who was acquitted by a jury last weekend in the death of Trayvon Martin.
"I was disappointed to the point of tears," said Tiffany Johnson of Tampa. "That could have been my brother. That could have been my child out there."
Many at the rallies also called for a repeal of Florida's stand-your-ground law, which says a person has no duty to try to turn away if they feel their life is threatened. Some feel it unnecessarily puts lives in danger.
"We got to get the stand-your-ground law changed because it could be 100 more Trayvon Martins and we don't want that to happen," said Joann Campbell of Tampa, who joined the rally.
It was hard to find any people vocalizing opposing demonstrators at the rally. One man, Kenneth Letson of Largo, said he thinks the anger following the Zimmerman verdict has been misplaced.
"They have to respect the legal system. There was a fair trial. A jury had a verdict and they have to honor the verdict," Letson said, adding he brought a sign with him that he decided to leave in the car. "The sign says 'Jesus Forgives George.'"
But many at the event said, although they don't agree with the verdict, they understand this is how the justice system sometimes works; they're just hoping it leads to more discussion and perhaps even change.
"I would hope that I live in a world where it maybe doesn't happen to my son," said Sean Lucas, who traveled to the even from Land O' Lakes with his five small children. "If anything good comes out of this, it's that it forces us to examine the things that we know need to be changed and are willing to talk about and this gives us the opportunity to do that."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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