While protests and rallies continued in Miami and Tallahassee demanding murder charges in the Trayvon Martin case, the teen’s shooter bolstered his legal defense by hiring another veteran attorney to represent him.
Former Gainesville police officer and University of Florida grad Hal Uhrig appeared on the Fox affiliate saying he’d been hired to help defend George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer at the Retreat at Twin Lakes subdivision in Sanford.
Uhrig, a criminal defense attorney, is a familiar face for Orlando TV viewers: he was a legal analyst on that Fox station during the Casey Anthony case.
He joins Craig Sonner, a DUI lawyer who acknowledges he has yet to meet his most famous client.
“Craig has been standing in there tall, trying to stand up for this guy,” Uhrig told Fox35 in Orlando. “I think it’s time we have a little more effort put in getting the truth out, getting George’s story out.”
Meanwhile, in Miami, Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones organized a peace walk in Liberty City, asking parents of slain children to join in. The group of some 60 people walked to the Sherdavia Jenkins Park Wednesday, then later joined a “Justice for Trayvon Martin” Unity March, which was being held in conjunction with the 9th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight Memorial Service, commemorating his death.
“You need to know your laws,’’ said Miami-Dade School Board member Dorothy Bendgross-Mindingall, referring to the controversial Stand your Ground law. “Just because they are written, doesn’t mean they are right.”
The event, which drew some 1,500 people, was dedicated to Martin, said Christine King, president of the MLK Economic Corporation, which organized the event.
“This is what Dr. King stood for, justice,’’ King said.
As Trayvon Martin’s parents showed up, they were greeted by hundreds of supporters, who held signs, blew horns and sang gospel songs. Later, they lit hundreds of candles in memory of King and Trayvon.
In Tallahassee, nearly 200 protesters, led by local officials, rallied at the Capitol earlier Wednesday, using the Trayvon Martin shooting death to voice their opposition to racial profiling, the state’s justice system and the controversial Stand Your Ground law.
Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, led the mostly black 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 in Florida and around the country 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 the man who shot Trayvon, George Zimmerman, was not arrested. Zimmerman told Sanford police he shot Trayvon in self-defense after Trayvon attacked him.
“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.
The 2005 bill was approved overwhelmingly by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush. It allows people to use deadly force when they believe their life is at risk.
Lawson voted for Stand Your Ground in 2005, as it received a unanimous vote in the Senate.
“The law was passed for the National Rifle Association,” he said. “I voted for the bill. It was a mistake.”
The rally came just an hour before Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll met with the Rev. Dr. R.B. 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.
“If we want to do a very thorough and comprehensive job, we need to wait until the investigation is completed,” said Holmes. “We do not want to politicize this process.”
“I’m gong to be very objective,” said Holmes. “I personally feel the Mr. Zimmerman should have been arrested, but everyone deserves justice.”
The task force will begin in earnest after the investigation into the Trayvon shooting is complete.
But State Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, has created his own task force to look into Stand Your Ground, after saying he was frustrated by what he called "stalling" by the governor. He has scheduled the first meeting at 4 p.m.Thursday at the Broward County Main Library in Fort Lauderdale.
Meanwhile a white separatist group announced it plans to conduct patrols in Sanford to ensure “white citizens will be safe from any potential racial violence.”
The National Socialist Movement said it made the announcement to counter threats from the New Black Panther Party, which had offered a $10,000 for Zimmerman’s capture.
Miami Herald intern Chantale Glover also contributed to this report.
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