Dream Defenders Call It Quits At Capitol

By: Matt Galka Email
By: Matt Galka Email
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Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Protesters angry by the acquittal of George Zimmerman are leaving the Florida Capitol after staging a 31-day long protest.

The small but determined group wanted Gov. Rick Scott to call a special session to repeal the state's "stand your ground" law.

Scott refused the request. But House Speaker Will Weatherford agreed to hold a legislative hearing on the law.

Organizers said they were not giving up on their goals.

They plan to return to the Capitol when lawmakers hold committee meetings in September. They also plan to register voters and target legislators who opposed them.

The protest group, known as the Dream Defenders, also said they will join events being held in Washington D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famed "I Have a Dream" speech.

By: Matt Galka

Tallahassee, FL -- For 31 days and 30 nights the Dream Defenders said they would stay in the Capitol until their demands were met. They reversed course on that decision Thursday.

"This isn't the last you will hear of the Dream Defenders, this isn't the last you will hear of our work, this isn't the last time you will hear 'can we dream together?'" said the group's executive director Phillip Agnew.

With a final rally cry at Florida's Capitol, the activists and their occupation of Governor Rick Scott's office bid farewell.

"Once we knew we had triggered the poll, it's a natural thought to be thinking about what happens after that. We've got a lot of work to do outside of here, we're going up to D.C., we'll be recruiting on campus, registering voters and we'll be back here in a month. We can't plan all of that right here in this little area that we've been at for a month," said Agnew.

The group didn't exactly go quietly into the night. The remainder marched to Gov. Scott's mansion and delivered him an eviction notice. Scott denied the activists their request for a special session to review the stand your ground law, as did the house speaker, senate president, and majority of the legislature.

"Sometimes you kind of have to go through some things and test yourself, and I think that these 30 days has really given them the fortitude to go out and make the changes that they asked legislative leaders and the governor to make," said Rep. Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee). Williams was an avid supporter of the group's efforts.

The Dream Defenders plan to be back to debate the stand your ground law during committee weeks starting September 23rd. WCTV asked them would their return be another occupation like it was for this past month. They responded that they couldn't answer that question yet.

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