By Roger Caldwell
“We are here because Trayvon can’t be,” says 100 protesters camped out at Governor Scott’s office for 4 days. Our youth in America has always been the initial stimulus for fundamental change in the country, and the group Dream Defenders are following in the great tradition of political activism.
On Tuesday July 16, 2013, fifty young people led by Philip Agnew, executive director of Dream Defenders occupied Florida State Capitol with a sit in, outside the governor’s office, and requested a meeting with Scott. At this meeting they were demanding that Governor Scott call a special legislative session seeking to change or repeal the “Stand Your Ground law.”
The acquittal of George Zimmerman has angered and struck a chord of disbelief in the country and around the world, and has motivated our youth to take action. In the last two days the numbers have increased to over 100, and Governors Scott agreed to meet with the protestors on Thursday night around 9 p.m.
A statement from the governor’s office said, “I asked to meet with the protestors this evening to personally hear their concerns following the jury’s verdict in the Zimmerman case. Tonight the protestors asked that I call a special session of the legislature to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. I told them that I agree with the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, which concurred with the law. I also reminded them of their right to share their views with their state legislators and let them know their opinions on the law.”
The youth are drawing a line in the sand and they are acknowledging with their occupation of the capitol, that they do not agree with the verdict and the law. “We are not here to retry George Zimmerman,” Agnew said during an afternoon rally. “What we are here to do is to express our anger, our angst, our disappointment at the state for what happened under his watch.”
At this point there is a standoff and it appears that the youth are in this for the long haul. The country and the world are watching what happens to these courageous youth activists, and at this point they are locked up in the capitol, where they will spend the week-in.
When Black and Brown parents and children do not feel safe in a state, after a jury makes a decision, something is wrong with the decision. When there are over 100 cities and thousands of people protesting the decision of a court, probably the statue and the judge made a mistake, and the task force was wrong. Many believe that the Zimmerman case was not about race, but a false assumption made by Zimmerman in a state with a long history of hatred, and racial profiling fueled the confrontation with Trayvon.
The shocking outcome of the Zimmerman verdict is the reason the youth have taken over Florida’s State capitol. Our leaders can turn a blind eye to the injustice, or they can begin to have an honest conversation about justice, corruption, and the broken legal system in our state. There is an urgent need for the overhaul of the Stand Your Ground law, and with our support, our youth will not be moved.