By: Lanetra Bennett
March 5, 2013
One group of young people had a state of the state message of their own.
They used this first day of the Florida legislative session to welcome politicians with a set of demands to empower youth and bring about equal justice for all.
The group shouted, "The state is ours, the state is ours, the state is ours!"
Saleema Ali says she's no longer afraid to tell her story. Her family moved to the United States from Trinidad in 1996.
The 22-year-old from Orlando says it's been tough for them because of the recent crackdown on immigration. Ali says they've been homeless three times since 2011, and she's had to drop out of college.
Ali says, "It's scary because this is my life. This is where I live. I've been here since I was six years old. This is my home. To think that my home and my life is being threatened because people for some reason don't think I'm worthy of being here, that's a scary thing."
Ali is asking for immigration reform.
She joined more than 100 young people from across Florida with the group called, "Dream Defenders" at the Capitol to voice that concern Tuesday.
They also demand that lawmakers repeal the Stand Your Ground Law and end voter suppression.
The Dream Defenders lined the hallway of the House and Senate Chambers while singing to greet lawmakers as they came in.
FSU student and Dream Defender Sherika Shaw "It's important for the people here in the capitol to know that we care and a lot of things that are happening, a lot of the policies that are being passed, we don't approve of, we don't agree with them, we don't feel like they're the best four our communities."
Press Release: Dream Defenders
Tallahassee, FL – On March 5th, 2013, at the Plaza Rotunda in the Capitol of Florida, the Dream Defenders will deliver a sobering, and more telling version of the Governor’s State of the State Address. The event will feature a Community State of the State address with speakers addressing a number of issues including immigration, voter suppression, stand your ground and the school-to-prison pipeline.
WHO: Dream Defenders, a group of students and youth from Tallahassee, FL, Orlando, FL, Tampa, FL, Gainesville, FL and Miami, FL.
WHAT: Press conference highlighting a state of emergency in Florida covering multiple issues, followed by an official Welcome to the “Dream Era.” Over 100 Dream Defenders from Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville and Tallahassee will be in attendance at the address.
WHEN: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: The Florida Capitol | 400 S Monroe St, Tallahassee, FL 32399 | Plaza Level Rotunda
Dream Defenders have local chapters in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville and Tallahassee on college campuses and in communities working on a statewide school-to-prison pipeline campaign, as well as local campaigns spanning from: the repeal of stand your ground, voting rights and immigration. These areas of focus combine to make up the Dream Defenders “Dream Agenda” for the upcoming legislative session in the state of Florida.
“Our generation is under attack from many angles: whether it is the assault on our voting rights, the hunting season that is endorsed by “Stand Your Ground”, the denial of basic human rights to our immigrant communities, or the mass exodus of our children from classrooms to cells. These issues are OUR issues,” says Marie Paul, an organizer with the University of Central Florida Dream Defenders.
The Dream Defenders are reacting to the current state of affairs with organization and hope. Phillip Agnew, Executive Director of the Dream Defenders stated, “The Dream era is now. 2013 and beyond. It is an era propelled by black and brown youth who spent their formative years criminalized, marginalized, tossed to the side and forgotten. We found beauty in the dark; we found strength in our struggle, determination through despair.”
CONTACT: To schedule interviews, please contact Steven Pargett at (850) 366-3590 or firstname.lastname@example.org