Dream Defenders Occupy the Florida Capitol to Repeal Stand Your Ground Law

dream defenders

On July 16th, just days after George Zimmerman was acquitted after killing an unarmed, teenaged Trayvon Martin, a group called the ‘Dream Defenders’ took a stand against Florida’s Stand Your Ground law by occupying the state Capitol. They have been conducting a sit-in of Governor Rick Scott’s office in the Capitol for 8 days and 10 hours at this writing.

The group of mostly college students and young professionals are calling on the Governor to convene a special session of the legislature to enact “Trayvon’s Law”, which would repeal the Stand Your Ground law, ban racial profiling, and end the school-to-prison pipeline. The Dream Defenders are a human rights organization.

Watch here:

Dream Defenders use the hashtag “TakeoverFL” to spread their message of equality and non-violent civil disobedience.

They write of their mission:

On Thursday, July 18th, the Governor finally met with us, but provided no real leadership. Rather than calling for a special session, he is calling for a statewide day of prayer to end racial profiling. But faith without works isn’t justice.

We are taking a stand not only in Trayvon’s memory, but for our worth as people and citizens of Florida. We can not allow Gov. Scott to neglect his responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of all Floridians.

We are here until our struggle for justice is won. And if we are to keep moving forward, we need your support.

Governor Scott told us that we need to increase our support. We know that the people of Florida and the nation are behind us but we need to show it. Can you demonstrate you support by signing our petition?

They say they will stay until they get the change they see as necessary, even if it takes months. Republican Governor Rick Scott is offering nothing but prayers, but prayers do not remedy bad policy. Prayers are not the same as laws, and even Governor Scott should know that. We are a nation of laws, not a nation of prayers.

Their occupation has been peaceful, and while the chances of Governor Scott growing any kind of moral character in time to address the very real problems of systemic racial inequity, profiling, and shoot first laws are slim, the Miami Herald points out that the Dream Defenders may get legislative action another way– through Democrats, of course.

Sen. Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, is calling for a hearing on Stand Your Ground law when the Legislature holds its next committee week in September.

Democratic leaders in the House are on board with the idea.

I would ask Governor Rick Scott if when he talks to God or Jesus in his prayers, he ever hears anything back about murder being a sin, or turning our backs on the vulnerable being a bad thing, or that we don’t abandon our young to violent deaths because we’ve judged them inferior based on their skin color alone. When he reads his Bible, how does he miss what Jesus stood for to such a degree that he is wiling to use the prayer card as a Get Out of Bad Policy free card. I would ask him if he is aware of a study by Mark Hoekstra and Cheng Cheng showing that there are more murders in Stand Your Ground states. Hoekstra explained:

One possibility for the increase in homicide is that perhaps [in cases where] there would have been a fistfight … now, because of stand your ground laws, it’s possible that those escalate into something much more violent and lethal.

Is this what Scott’s version of Christlike leadership looks like? Escalating violence into lethal violence for the sake of the gun lobby is as far away from what Jesus stood for as it’s possible to be.

But then, Scott doesn’t feel any need to shepherd the people of his state; he’s just there to pass laws for his private “businesses” so that they can further scam the taxpayers, because 14 felonies weren’t enough for Scott’s “business” ventures.

And anyway, Scott’s just going to buy the next election, spending $80 million on TV ads, kinda like another out of touch millionaire Republican who also used Florida as the place where he denounced half of America as lazy and not worth food and shelter. It didn’t work so well for Mitt Romney, but sadly Floridians will not be able to count on the presidential level turn out by the sane to save them.

But former Republican turned Democrat Charlie Crist just might be able to save the state from another four years of failed Rick Scott “management”. Until then, the Dream Defenders have the backs of all sane Floridians, and all Americans who value justice over profit, and life over death.

“I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.” – Malcolm X

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