Hundreds protest Zimmerman trial verdict in Orlando

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

More than 1,000 people attended a peaceful rally called "A March Against Gun Violence" at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando Wednesday evening.

Orlando police estimated about 1,200 demonstrators marched from Lake Eola to the Orange County Courthouse in support of Trayvon Martin.

From the band shell, the group headed north on Rosalind Avenue, turned onto Livingston Street and then ended at the Orange County Courthouse.

Organizers told WFTV the Rev. Al Sharpton and the NAACP's president were invited to speak at the event, but they could not make it due to scheduling conflicts.

Despite a sole George Zimmerman supporter riling up the crowd, it was a peaceful protest.

"No justice, no peace!" called out demonstrators.

Four days after Zimmerman was found not guilty, Martin's supporters made it clear they want to see a change.

"I've been marching since 1960," Orlando resident Bernard Dudley said. "Nothing's changed."

People from all walks of life -- all ages and races -- took to the streets. Many said they had their own message, but they all sounded similar.

The hundreds of peaceful protestors converged on the Orange County Courthouse for the anti-gun violence rally.

"I want to have a voice," said Maitland resident Michael Brown.

Organizers took to social media Monday and supporters Thursday showed their strength in numbers.

"We're coming out to protest, but we need a change in the criminal justice system," said rally organizer Shayan Modarres.

Demonstrators were called upon to appeal to politicians and urge them to end the stand your ground law.

"Being angry, being sad isn't going to do something, we have to do something," Modarres said.

Earlier in the day, Sharpton spoke at the NAACP's Orlando conference about his effort to change Florida's "stand your ground" law in the wake of Zimmerman's acquittal in Martin's killing.

He said he's calling for nationwide rallies like the one at Lake Eola to send a message to lawmakers that people will not be silent about the verdict or the law.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder didn't avoid the topic when speaking at the NAACP convention.

"I believe this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly about the complicated and emotionally charged issues that this case has raised," said Holder.

Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense, and the jury agreed.

Now gun violence and Florida's laws are under the microscope.

"Trayvon Martin will be a historic figure, not because he wanted to be, but because people refused to sit there and allow what happened to go unquestioned," Sharpton said.

He said he plans to march on Tallahassee and lobby lawmakers leading up to next year's mid-term elections.

The movement will start where Martin was killed, Sharpton said.

Sharpton said he has a three-day meeting in Miami to develop strategy for the effort to change Florida's laws, but said "Sanford will certainly be one of the first stops I make after that."