TAMPA — On both sides of Tampa Bay on Saturday, groups called for justice for black people killed by police officers.
Their protests were in solidarity with those in Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot to death by a white police officer on Aug. 9.
The Tampa Dream Defenders and other groups gathered at Lykes Gaslight Square Park in downtown Tampa on Saturday afternoon, waving signs and chanting “No justice; no peace.” More than 30 people stood at a corner of the park, calling for the arrest of the officer who shot Brown, forward-facing body cameras for Tampa police officers and more detailed police reports showing the location and race of crime suspects.
Since Brown’s death two weeks ago there has been unrest and sporadic rioting in Ferguson, Mo., and protests have taken place in communities throughout the country.
Locally, the Dream Defenders demand justice for Arthur Green, a Tampa man who died following a diabetic incident while in police handcuffs; and Javon Neal, a 16-year-old shot and killed by police in 2012 after authorities said he aimed a gun at them.
“It’s relevant here because it’s the exact same case of police immunity when they kill black and brown people,” said Alekos Zambrano, an organizer of the rally.
Across the bay, about 50 people gathered in front of the St. Petersburg Police Department headquarters earlier Saturday afternoon. Some held signs with messages such as: “Stop police murder of blacks” and “Ferguson = everywhere black people live in the U.S.”
Leaders of the St. Petersburg Uhuru movement compared the shooting death of Michael Brown to police violence against black people throughout the United States and called for more direct community control over local police.
Chimurenga Waller, who led the demonstration, said the justice system favors police officers in shootings like the one in Ferguson.
“Once they say it’s justifiable homicide, what are we supposed to do?” Waller said.