TAMPA — The streets of downtown were once again lined with protesters on Wednesday afternoon, but this time they wore ties and business slacks.
The protesters were a part of a march called the “Lawyers March for Racial Justice,” which began at the George Edgecomb Courthouse at 5 p.m. It was organized by Tampa Bay attorneys to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, after the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd.
Cory Person and Robert Shimberg, both attorneys in Tampa, organized and led the march. They were joined by Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren and nearly 200 others. Many said they came to march straight from work at law offices throughout Tampa.
”We’re here for equal justice under the law,” Warren said. “It’s inscribed on the U.S. Supreme Court that lawyers should be one of the first lines of defense to making sure that everybody in our country is treated fairly and equally. That’s why we’re here.”
This was the first protest Warren attended this month, but his name was well known among other local protest groups. On June 15, his office declined to prosecute 67 protesters who had been arrested for unlawful assembly.
A handful of lawyers stood and spoke in front of the George Edgecomb Courthouse before they marched a half-mile to the Sam Gibbons Courthouse and back. The protest was quiet and short in comparison to others in recent weeks, with few signs and only one or two sustained chants of “Black Lives Matter.”
The protest ended by 6 p.m. While largely peaceful and calm, Person emphasized that it was important to show Hillsborough County that its lawyers support the movement and its residents.
”We all came together because we understood that we as lawyers hold a unique privilege in our communities,” Person, who will be the next president of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, said in a speech. “A new generation of lawyers are picking up the mantle and are marching for this great cause of equal justice.”
Organizers of the march said they believe it is the first lawyer-centric march in the country since the death of George Floyd on May 25. Earlier in the month, public defenders from Pasco and Pinellas counties marched around the Pinellas County courthouse and jail.
”It’s important for this community to see their legal community out here,” Warren said. “We’re their first line of defense. The mission of every attorney should be to uphold the value of equal justice under the law.”
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Coverage of local and national protests from the Tampa Bay Times
HOW TO SUPPORT: Whether you’re protesting or staying inside, here are ways to educate yourself and support black-owned businesses.
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