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Dream Defenders’ Stand Your Ground Standoff at Scott’s Office Continues Into Second Week

| July 22, 2013

The Dream Defenders' camp-out on Day 5. (Facebook)

The Dream Defenders’ camp-out on Day 5. (Facebook)

Gov. Rick Scott and protesters camped outside his Capitol office continue to stand their separate ground.

Scott reiterated Monday, before leaving Tallahassee for an event in southeast Florida, that there will be no special session to review the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law, a view supported by Republicans in the GOP-dominated Legislature.

Meanwhile, members of the Dream Defenders, a student-led group that has protested at the Capitol since last Tuesday, said they’re busy making plans for the rest of this week and beyond after Scott sent Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters to chat with students for several hours Monday.

Jacksonville resident Ciara Taylor, a member of the Dream Defenders, said that while they hope Scott changes his mind, they already have plans to be joined later this week by state and national civil rights groups.

“There are things that happen every day, people who change their minds every day for the better, and we can only hope that Gov. Scott wakes up, very soon,” Taylor said while Walters continued to talk with the protesters.

The protesters, many students, started 100 strong last Tuesday. Over the weekend, 24 remained in a first floor hallway of the Capitol, outside Scott’s office, under the watch of Capitol police.

While the Dream Defenders say they will remain at the Capitol until a special legislative session is called on the “stand your ground” law, Scott maintained that he has no intention to bring back lawmakers or to change his support for the measure, which passed in 2005.

“They’ve asked for something that you know I’m not going to do, I’m not going to call a special session,” Scott said after meeting with Walters early Monday at the Department of Juvenile Justice headquarters in Tallahassee.

The protest was sparked by the July 13 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February 2012 shooting death of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin. Though Zimmerman’s attorneys did not use a stand-your-ground defense, the Sanford case has led to a national debate about the law.

Asked about the debate and a negative portrayal of Florida by critics of the law, Scott responded, “We have a great state.” After the meeting, Scott was scheduled to fly to Port St. Lucie for an afternoon economic affairs roundtable at Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies.

Walters said her intention was to hear the concerns of the students and share what her agency is doing.

In addition to their opposition to the “stand your ground” law, the students have tried to leverage the state and national attention — there were 17 members of the media on hand as Walters met with about 30 protesters — to discuss other juvenile justice laws, such as a zero-tolerance policy in schools.

“Had it not been for Trayvon Martin being suspended from school, he would not have been in Sanford that weekend,” Taylor said.

At the time of the shooting, Martin was serving an out-of-school suspension, as part of his school district’s zero-tolerance policy, due to a marijuana possession charge.

Taylor said Walters’ appearance at the Capitol should be considered a small victory for the Dream Defenders.

“We didn’t ask her to come, but if we can have her listen to stories from black and brown youth that are being affected by the initiatives that DJJ are putting out, then it’s a win, it’s an unexpected win,” Taylor said. “It’s not every day you’re able to have someone in such a key leadership position talk with the people that are affected.”

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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16 Responses for “Dream Defenders’ Stand Your Ground Standoff at Scott’s Office Continues Into Second Week”

  1. boomer says:

    I think the main question here is: why aren’t these people at work? who has this kind of time and money to waste??? hmmmmm

  2. My Daily Rant says:

    Im sick of seeing our government giving in to Minorites, The stand your ground is a good law it gives people the chance to defend themselves.If you leave people alone it will never affect you.

    • Kip Durocher says:

      yes I agree with you. if Zimmerman had just minded his own business and “leave people alone” this story and comments would not be here and the young man would still be alive.

  3. downinthelab says:

    What about Antonio West?

  4. A.S.F. says:

    Perhaps these STUDENTS feel that making our state a more just and better place to live is worth their time and effort. At least, they are thinking about something worthwhile and doing something about it instead of playing golf, obsessively watching Fox news and shooting off their guns like many of the fine citizens of our state.

  5. Erica says:

    Trayvon Martin was not suspended for a possession charge. He had an empty bag with “what appeared to be” marijuana residue and was suspended. Journalists should report the news accurately, not make it up as they go along.

  6. Kip Durocher says:

    Good for them. Stand up citizens engaged in “our First Amendment rights to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    I wonder if the men at The Old North bridge in Concord Hill had money and time to waste??? hmmmm

    Dream Defenders I salute you.

  7. Ben Dover says:

    Ignorance you expect it from the some , but all these so called stars, Madonna, Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, Usher, who are they hurting but themselves, and Zimmerman didn` t even use the Stand your Ground defense, his lawyers saw the State was looking for a scape goat to quiet the trouble Al Sharpton started, his attorneys had enough problems with the prosecution showing only pics of Trayvon as a 12 year old, with holding evidence, disclosure issues about witnesses ,a judge clearly in favor of the state, and they still couldn t convict George, because he defended his life, like anyone of these protestors would have done in his shoes, including Al Sharpton. Its called instinct or self preservation, I hope they never change the law , maybe then we`ll get some good entertainers throw some concerts here , who wants to pay to see idiots anyway?

  8. Sherry Epley says:

    Some things are more important than work! Some people are retired after doing their full time jobs and caring for their families, for most of their lives. Some people are college students who are between sessions. Some people work night shifts.

    • boomer says:

      I don’t believe that for a minute…I travel the country every day for my job and it’s like this every where…no jobs and people have too much time on their hand…

  9. Outsider says:

    While I commend these people for voicing their opinions, for the umpteenth time this weekend, Chicago had six killed in 17 shootings. And why do we specify Chicago? Because it has the strictest gun laws, that are not working; you can go to any major city and see the same thing. Why are so many outraged over a nearly grown man getting shot for assaulting another man, while a six year old, yes SIX, died at the hands of other blacks in Chicago barely gets noticed? THAT outrages me. What was that little girl’s crime? Eating ice cream on the corner? Your anger is misdirected, and I can prove it statistically that a black man is much safer walking through a white neighborhood than a black neighborhood.

  10. Honesty and Integrity are not in the Democrats vocabulary says:

    Oh yeah, I want to thank Jay Z, Kanye West, Madonna, Beyonce and the rest of the immoral, unethical, wealthy, race baiting, cancerous dysfunctional thugs for not coming to our state. As a result, we will see a lower crime rate and less tax payers monies going to defend the idiots that commit them!!!

  11. Sherry Epley says:

    Since guns, guns, guns can so easily be purchased in many other states, violent crime statistics in any one state are nonsense.

  12. Sherry Epley says:

    Oh Yes. . . and that is why we need gun safety laws at a federal level. Ahhhh, what a concept. . . thinking and seeing beyond the end of one’s nose.

  13. Outsider says:

    Yes Sherry, we need yet more federal laws dictating how we run out lives. As to the federal gun safety laws, maybe we can get the perpetrators of fast and furious to write some.

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