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FDLE Lays Down Florida Capitol Garrison Rule to Avoid Repeat of Summer Protests

| September 21, 2013

The welcome is a figure of speech.

The welcome is a figure of speech.

State police plan to limit after-hours access to the Capitol in an effort to avoid a repeat of the month-long occupation of Gov. Rick Scott’s office over the summer by protesters pushing for changes to Florida’s self-defense laws.

Under the proposal by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, members of the public would be expected to leave the Capitol building by 5 p.m. each weekday or within 30 minutes of the end of public meetings. Capitol police could arrest for trespassing anyone who didn’t leave when they were told.

No one could stay overnight or prepare food in publicly accessible parts of the Capitol. There would also be additional restrictions on those who have cards allowing them to access the building and how many people could accompany them.

“The suggested changes are directed at enabling Capitol Police to better secure the Capitol building complex property, safeguard those who work and visit within the Capitol and ensure security services are provided in the most efficient manner,” according to a document outlining the changes.

FDLE released a summary of the proposal to the Tallahassee Democrat after the paper sent in an open-records request. The News Service of Florida requested the document after the Democrat reported on it.

The agency says the full plan is shielded under the state’s open-records law, but it released the outline “in the spirit of honoring the request.” The proposal would still have to be approved by Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. The state fire marshal is also supposed to be consulted.


“At this juncture we have just begun submitting areas of recommended changes to these parties which will be subject to discussions and modifications prior to final decisions being reached in the near future,” the FDLE outline says.

Neither Weatherford nor Gaetz has seen the plan yet, according to their offices. A spokeswoman for Scott referred questions to FDLE.

The plan comes after a group known as the Dream Defenders staged a 31-day sit-in at the Capitol following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The Dream Defenders demanded changes to state laws on self defense, school discipline and racial profiling.

Rep. Alan Williams, a Tallahassee Democrat who worked with the group, said he understood the need to secure the Capitol but didn’t think a “Dream Defender rule” was necessary. Williams said it was also important to make sure Floridians could be heard by state officials.

“I would hope that we ensure that our citizens of the state of Florida continue to have that opportunity before this rule is implemented,” he said.

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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10 Responses for “FDLE Lays Down Florida Capitol Garrison Rule to Avoid Repeat of Summer Protests”

  1. johnny taxpayer says:

    Who owns the Capitol building?

  2. m&m says:

    The tax payers own the capital not a bunch of protesters who are too lazy to work and do not pay taxes.. helped pay for that last waste of time and money by these deadbeats..

    • johnny taxpayer says:

      Interesting that you assume only unemployed non taxpayers protest. I didnt agree with the so called dreamddefenders protest, but i certainly dont want the state police deciding who can protest and where. Every citizen of Florida owns the capital, not the politicians.

    • Nancy N. says:

      “a bunch of protesters who are too lazy to work and do not pay taxes” – Do you know all of these protesters personally? Have you seen their tax returns? Until you can answer “yes” to those questions, please refrain from making snap judgements about people who are willing to be more brave politically than you are. They took a stand publicly and at risk of arrest for what they believe in while you hide behind an anonymous identity online and call people names. I know who I respect in this scenario.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      These true patriots care enough to spend their spare time, effort and gas money to fight what they truly believe are policies that are rigged against their families and futures. And yours too. Now you cheer this law that lets the State force them to risk even there freedom by making them trespassing criminals because they have the nerve to oppose the boot on their throat. And many of them will continue even then, because they truly believe in the importance of their cause. That is beautiful, and in my opinion these people are true American patriots.

  3. m&m says:

    EVERY TAX paying citizen owns the capital.. Protests are for the streets where those people came from..

  4. A.S.F. says:

    If such measures were being taken for security purposes, that would be one thing. But, obviously, this was done as a matter of politics–the politics of exclusion. Governor Scott should remember that the people elected him and that protesters vote too. But, I suspect, he has made plenty of “friends” while in office who will take good care of him after his term expires…So, with not much to lose, he will continue with the same behavior he has shown all along, perhaps even more brazenly than before.

  5. V says:

    That’s right, let Johnny Law gets its “claws” into another one of our Constitutional Rights ! No, I don’t like protesters, but its ALLOWED in our Constitution. I don’t like American flag burners, but its ALLOWED in our Constitution. I don’t like this president and his administration, but their ALLOWED in our Constitution. The day you let government agencies make NEW laws that are not LEGAL in our Constitution, will be the day the next AMERICAN REVOLUTION starts !

  6. m&m says:

    V.. If you want to start it count me in..

  7. Sherry Epley says:

    Our country was born from rebellion and protests!

    Why are those who protest gun violence assumed to be dead beats or in any way not as good as those who comment here? Was their skin perhaps a color other than white? Why all the fear and hate?
    Those protestors were mainly college STUDENTS. Huuuummm, I wonder if the people that fear their influence are insecure in their own tortured ignorance.

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