JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A march planned for Tuesday morning outside the new Duval County Courthouse to protest the 20-year sentence of Marissa Alexander became an indoor vigil due to the lingering rains from Beryl.
The NAACP organized the protest of the woman sentenced after firing a shot during a confrontation with her estranged husband. While the shot never hit anybody and Alexander claimed it was a warning shot fired in self-defense, a jury convicted her of aggravated assault.
Under Florida's "10-20-Life" sentencing guidelines, the firing of a gun during a felony results in a mandatory 20-year sentence.
The NAACP and several elected officials are calling for a review of the sentencing law regarding gun cases, calling this an "unjust application of the law in the Marissa Alexander case."
Bishop McKissick Jr., pastor at Bethal Baptist Church and a board member of the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, and U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown were among the half-dozen people who spoke to about 50 people gathered for the vigil.
Brown and other supporters said the 10-20-Life law is being inconsistently applied in Jacksonville and argue it was not meant for first-time offenders like Alexander.
"I talked with the members of the Legislature because I wanted know the legislative intent of the law," Brown told the crowd. "It was never intended to be used on first-time, abused, beaten women."
Brown announced that Michael Dowd, a New York attorney who she says is one of the best domestic violence lawyers in the country, will handle Alexander's appeal.
The NAACP says the march that couldn't be held Tuesday will be rescheduled for next week with the theme: a new courthouse, a new attitude.
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