CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Protesters marched Saturday morning to call for what they consider justice for a man charged in a 2011 restaurant robbery.
The march was organized by the family of Timothy Taylor. Taylor is awaiting sentencing on a federal charge in the armed robbery of a Mount Pleasant fast food restaurant.
"We're marching for his freedom and that the court system would do what is right," Joan Taylor, Timothy's mother, said at the march as she walked with Timothy's son. "They are trying to take a young man out of the home with his son for something that he's already served time for."
Taylor entered a guilty plea to federal charges on July 12, 2017.
But Taylor's supporters have claimed the only reason he was charged by feds in the incident is that investigators hoped to get Taylor to reveal information about an unrelated case, the 2009 disappearance of 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel, a New York teen who went missing during spring break that year in Myrtle Beach.
Members of the National Action Network and the New Black Panther Party joined the family and supporters in a march from Mother Emanuel AME Church to the Four Corners of Law to send a message to the FBI, National Action Network South Carolina President Elder James Johnson said.
"My son served his time for this robbery, and just because the officers think that he may know something about another case, they shouldn't put him in jail and hold him there, threaten 10 years of his life, because he doesn't have information," she said.
Johnson is contacting the Rev. Al Sharpton to facilitate a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he said at Wednesday's town hall.
Both groups joined together earlier this week for a town hall event in which they claimed the federal government should not be involved in the armed robbery case because Taylor already served probation time on state charges for the same crime.
Taylor's mother said the New Black Panther Party learned of the case through social media and got involved. She also said a jurisdictional challenge has been filed in the case.
At one point, a member of the New Black Panther Party was seen carrying a large assault-style gun during the march, a move the group said was within their open-carry rights.
Taylor's mother said she is supportive of any group that supports her effort, but said she was just not in support of the guns.
"That's not the message I want to send, but they have their rules and regulations, and in spite of them carrying a weapon, they have contributed to our black community," she said. "They help with housing, they help with schools, they help with underprivileged communities, so there's a lot of good in the Black Panthers that people just don't know about."
Several groups have held rallies to protest the federal charges against Taylor and call for his release from jail.
During the summer of 2016, an FBI agent testified Drexel was abducted, gang-raped at a "stash house" in the McClellanville area, shot after trying to escape, and then her body was fed to alligators.
A jailhouse informant accused Taylor and his father, Shaun Taylor, of being directly involved in Drexel's murder, according to the agent's testimony.
Taylor has denied killing Drexel and his mother said school records indicated her son was in school at the time the informant claimed he would have been with Drexel.
Her body has not been recovered, but FBI agents said in 2016 they believe she is dead.
Federal prosecutors say they are still working on compiling evidence in the Drexel disappearance.
A sentencing date for Taylor has not yet been set.