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Dream Defenders leave Florida Capitol after 31 days

The Dream Defenders

The Dream Defenders

Dream Defenders leave Florida Capitol after 31 days

By Roger Caldwell

The Dream Defenders, a political/human rights student organization, has finally left the governor’s office after 31 days of protest. This is very significant because it was led by Black and Brown Florida college students with eight chapters around the state. The schools where the chapters are located: Florida A&M University, Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, Florida Inter-national University, and Miami Dade College.

“Our work and power have grown too big for these walls,” says Executive Director Phillip Agnew. The sit-in was peaceful, there was no violence, and several civil rights leaders a-round the country made appearances to express support such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond, and many different rappers.

Julian Bond, founder of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, declared the sit-in a success according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s fitting that the 50th anniversary of the March On Washington is coming up in a few days. That movement made this movement possible, and your movement gave our movement its legacy,” says Julian Bond.

The country and the world have watched this protest, and everyone wondered what would be Governor Scott’s reaction to the protest. There was respect on both sides and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the state spent $428,566.00 in security costs during the month-long protest, reported by the News Service of Florida.

The college activists remained at the Capitol to force Florida lawmakers to call a special session on “Stand Your Ground” laws. This never happened, but the Dream Defenders did get certain promises from Will Weatherford, Florida House Speaker, Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Will Weatherford promised to hold a hearing on the “Stand Your Ground” law this fall.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement agreed to have a meeting to discuss racial profiling in certain police departments in the state. Finally, the state Department of Juvenile Justice will began to initiate a dialogue with the Dream Defenders group on, “Why there is such a high disproportionate number of African Americans men in state prisons?”

These are all victories because none of this would have happened without the protest. The Dream Defenders did not anticipate their stay would last a month, but now their goals have expanded and our youth are inspired to do more.

At the top of their list of politicians who must be defeated in Florida is Governor Rick Scott. Governor Scott now has an approval rating of 43 percent ac-cording to the Quinnipiac University poll, and the Dream Defenders are planning to register 61,550 new voters. This is the margin that Scott won the election in 2010.

The Dream Defenders are expanding and growing and they have vibrant youth energy. The older political organizations must collaborate and partner with their platforms and causes. Changing and making Florida a progressive state where they care about the residents should start from the ground up. Support the Dream Defenders because they care about the people, and they are making a difference.


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