1. Clearwater

One year after Markeis McGlockton shooting, activists plan vigil in his honor

CLEARWATER — A year to the day after Markeis McGlockton was killed, local activist groups will honor his memory with a vigil.

Bay Area Dream Defenders, Civil Liberty Law and Answer Suncoast organized the vigil, which is planned for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 2751 Sunset Point Road. There will be multiple speakers and performers, and McGlockton's art will be on display, said Ashley Green with the Dream Defenders.

Mt. Zion United Methodist Church and Allendale United Methodist Church are also involved in organizing, Green said.

McGlockton, 28, was shot and killed July 19, 2018, by Michael Drejka after the two argued about a handicap parking space. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially said he would not arrest Drejka because of Florida's stand your ground law, parking protests and national outcry.

27 Days: The Markeis McGlockton case, from shooting to stand your ground furor to shooter's arrest

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About three weeks after the shooting, the State Attorney's Office charged Drejka with manslaughter, for which he could face 30 years in prison. Drejka's defense said the arrest was a result of political pressure.

Green said the family wanted a vigil to help remember McGlockton as he was — a son, a father and an artist.

"People have come and gone, cameras have come and gone, but the family is still having to deal with this every day," she said.

The vigil will move to the corner of U.S. 19 and Sunset Point Road so people can see the family and be reminded, Green said.

Ruth Beltran, a community organizer with Answer Suncoast, said the vigil is also a reminder that a year later, McGlockton's family has not seen a resolution.

"We still need a trial and we still need a conviction to bring justice to his family," she said.

Drejka is expected to face trial in August. Zebbie Atkinson IV, president of the Clearwater and Upper Pinellas Branch of the NAACP, said he will be at the vigil and the trial.

He said the case is a travesty with implications statewide. After the shooting, some legislators and gubernatorial candidates discussed whether to repeal the stand your ground law.

Atkinson hopes the upcoming trial has a different result than the Trayvon Martin case did in 2012. George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, saying he looked suspicious. The jury found Zimmerman not guilty. The verdict sparked national outcry.

Atkinson feels the parking lot security camera footage will make a difference.

"We've seen police shooting people for no reason on video, we've seen people getting choked out on video and nothing happens," he said. "So it's really hard to say, but hopefully this will have some consequence."

Contact Romy Ellenbogen at Follow @Romyellenbogen.