On Thursday, youth leaders, with support from Advancement Project, the League of Women Voters, and the Florida NAACP, hosted a national teleconference to discuss their request of wanting to meet with Florida Governor Rick Scott over George Zimmerman‘s not-guilty verdict.
Executive Director Philip Agnew and Political Director Ciara Taylor of the Florida-based Dream Defenders were on yesterday’s call. In addition, Annie Thomas, a student leader with the Power U Center for Social Change, also sat on the panel along with Tallahassee NAACP President Dale Landry and Judith Browne-Dianis of the Advancement Project.
The most central issue for the Dream Defenders is a demand to repeal the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, along with addressing racial profiling and eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline. The Dream Defenders also want to see a civil rights act named after slain teen Trayvon Martin passed in the state as well.
But Gov. Scott has said that he has no plans in changing the self-defense laws of the state and will not request lawmakers to convene; he has also continued to refuse to meet with the Defenders.
In protest, the Dream Defenders have been staging a peaceful sit-in at the Florida Capitol state house and stayed overnight at the Capitol building, and on Tuesday evening, a group of 60 individuals crowded the Governor’s office. Ms. Thomas, a high school student and one of the protesters, had sharp words for Gov. Scott after the call.
“We have traveled all the way from Miami to talk to the Governor, and I am disappointed that he will not return to the Capitol to meet with us,” said Ms. Thomas in a statement to NewsOne. “Trayvon was one of our own, and if this can happen to him, it can happen us. We are making sure this doesn’t happen to any more young people.”
Ms. Browne-Dianis, the co-director of Advancement Project who has been extremely vocal about the issues in Florida, delivered a statement to NewsOne as well.
“Trayvon Martin represents the precariousness of life as a young Black man in America today. Advancement Project is proud to stand with the Dream Defenders in urging a dialogue on racial profiling and in declaring that being young and Black should not be a crime,” said Ms. Browne-Dianis.
UPDATE: Gov. Scott met with the Dream Defenders last night, only to deny the group once more the opportunity for a special session regarding racial profiling, “stand your ground” and other matters. The Defenders will continue to occupy the Capitol building until the governor meets their demands.
Learn more about the Dream Defenders and their campaigns here.