1. News

From Clearwater church, Sharpton and gubernatorial candidates call for 'stand your ground' repeal

OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times  Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of National Action Network speaks during a press conference while the McGlockton family behind him to protest the killing of Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed Black man shot to death this month, on Sunday, August 5, 2018.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of National Action Network speaks during a press conference while the McGlockton family behind him to protest the killing of Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed Black man shot to death this month, on Sunday, August 5, 2018.
Published Aug. 6, 2018

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.

"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."

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 was initially not arrested after the shooting based on the Stand Your Ground law but used a self defense argument 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."

"Stand Your Ground is a racist, Jim Crow law that gives white people a license to kill unarmed people of color," Crump said.

McGlockton, 28, who was black, was killed on July 19 when Drejka, 47, who is white, confronted McGlockton's girlfriend over why she had parked in a handicap-reserved parking space without a permit at the Circle A Food Store at 1201 Sunset Point Road.

McGlockton was in the store with his 5-year-old son but heard the argument, walked outside and shoved Drejka to the ground.

Surveillance video shows Drejka pulling out a gun and shooting McGlockton, who stumbled back inside the store, where he died in front of his son.

Gualtieri declined to arrest Drejka, stating the shooter's claim that he was in fear of further attack met the criteria under the law for using deadly force. McCabe, the state attorney, is currently reviewing the case.

Throughout the service Sunday, Crump and Sharpton evoked the surveillance footage, which they said shows McGlockton taking steps backwards after shoving Drejka, far from a sign he was going to come at the man again.

Sharpton said if anyone had the right to stand his ground, it was McGlockton. He was protecting his family, the very thing black men are criticized by white America for not doing enough, Sharpton said.

The church was filled to capacity for the nearly-two hour service, leaving many peering in the locked glass doors. But outside of the church, about 300 supporters demonstrated with signs and chants, many marching through the North Greenwood neighborhood demanding justice.

"Enough is enough," a group of about 200 shouted before marching through the streets behind a Black Lives Matter banner.

Many carried signs decrying the law. One read in bold letters, "The whole system is racist."

For Theodis Clay, 61, who lives a few blocks from the church, McGlockton's killing was another case of the legal system failing a person because of his race.

"You know, you get tired of blacks getting the short end of the stick," he said. "Everything is done to keep us down."

A 2012 report from the Urban Institute showed that across the nation, Stand Your Ground laws protect white shooters. In cases where the shooter was white and the victim was black, the rate of justifiable homicide was 34 percent, compared to 3 percent when the shooter was black and the victim was white.

And a 2012 Tampa Bay Times analysis on Stand Your Ground found that in Florida, 73 percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white person.

For that, Sharpton urged law enforcement to take McGlockton's case to the courts, "while we come to the voting booth and put in some legislators that will make Stand Your Ground something of the past."

Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, told the crowd the acquittal of his son's killer, the lack of consequences for killing of unarmed black men, has "enabled the bigots, the racists and those who don't value African-American boys and girls."

But McGlockton's father, Michael McGlockton, said his son's death will not be in vain. He looked around at the church packed to capacity, the news media watching intently.

He remembered discussions where his son said he wanted his name to be known, to make an impact.

He'd say "Pops, I want to make it big, I want everyone to know who I am," the father said.

He looked out at the crowd.

"God has a way of making that happen."


Family to Pinellas prosecutor: File charges in death of Markeis McGlockton

Attorney calls Markeis McGlockton's death 'cold-blooded murder' by 'wannabe cop'

Mix of grief, energy at Markeis McGlockton funeral

Sheriff Gualtieri defends 'stand your ground' decision in convenience store shooting

In latest 'stand your ground' case, a question: Who started it?

Contact Tracey McManus at or (727) 445-4151. Follow @TroMcManus.

Editor's note — This article was changed to reflect the following correction: Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was initially not arrested in 2012 after killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin based on the state's Stand Your Ground law. He later avoided conviction using a self defense argument. An article in Monday's paper stated the incorrect defense


  1. The techniques are as varied as the costumes when Gasparilla parade-goers beckon for beads from the floats. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times]
    We were warned. Now the pirates are here. Stay with all day for the latest reports.
  2. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Police say a motorcycle and another vehicle collided on W. Boy Scout Boulevard Saturday afternoon. At least one person was killed.
  3. President Donald Trump points to the crowd as he arrives to speak during the annual "March for Life" rally on the National Mall, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) [EVAN VUCCI  |  AP]
    As the Democratic primary intensifies before the first contests to decide the nominee, Trump and his allies have issued a series of curiously favorable comments about Sanders.
  4. Officers later found an adult man with gunshot wounds in a car crash, but are still searching for the second man
  5. After a fire Saturday morning, a boat was left nearly unrecognizable [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    The flames were visible from Gandy Boulevard. Nobody was injured in the fire
  6. Harrison Peters, Chief of Schools in Hillsborough County, has landed a job as superintendent in Providence, R.I. [HCPS  |  Handout]
    Peters will become a turnaround superintendent at a troubled district.
  7. “My body, my choice” was the rallying cry on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in the state Capitol, where abortion rights activists decried a fast-tracked bill that would raise the bar for minors seeking abortions. (AP Photo/Aileen Perilla) [AILEEN PERILLA  |  AP]
    Abortion supporters worry about Florida’s move toward parental consent and what may follow.
  8. In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. [AP]
    As Democrats finished their third day before skeptical Republican senators, Trump’s legal team prepared to start his defense, expected on Saturday.
  9. In this July 30, 2019, file photo, a Super Mario figure is displayed at a showroom in Tokyo. After months of being tight-lipped, Comcast executives on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, said the fourth park at Universal Orlando would be based on characters from Nintendo. [KOJI SASAHARA  |  AP]
    Universal Studios is building theme parks based on Nintendo video games across the world. Orlando is set to get its Super Nintendo World in 2023.
  10. People climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge stop under flags flying at half-mast as mark of mourning and respect in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, for three U.S. crew members of an aerial water tanker that crashed Thursday while battling wildfires in Australia. [RICK RYCROFT  |  AP]
    The deaths came during an unprecedented wildfire season that has left a large swath of destruction in Australia’s southeast.