As its Capitol vigil continues, Dream Defenders gain allies
Dream Defenders, a statewide group of college students and young professionals that met Thursday night with Gov. Rick Scott, won’t be abandoned as they continue to push for a special session to end racial profiling, said Adora Obi Nweze, president of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP during a Friday rally at the Capitol.
“As this movement progresses, we call on all our allies in the state to join us,” said Obi Nweze, naming local ministers, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Service Employee International Union. “We’re going to show leadership to our youth and show them how it’s done.”
Flanked on the steps of the old Capitol by Phillip Agnew, director of Dream Defenders, and lawmakers Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, and Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, Nweze said those seeking changes to the state’s racial profiling wouldn’t leave until Scott approves a special session.
After meeting with Agnew and six other leaders of Dream Defenders, Scott said he wouldn’t call a special session and voiced support for the state’s “stand-your-ground” law. Many blame that law with creating a mindset that made the shooting death of Trayvon Martin possible.
“Either the governor misunderstands the role that stand-your-ground laws play in the state of Florida, or he’s intentionally misleading and abandoning his constituents in their time of need,” Obi Nweze said.
Agnew was cheered loudly by about 60 people who watched the noon rally. He said his group wouldn’t leave the Capitol, where its members have gathered since Tuesday, until Scott agrees to a special session.
“We’re up against what seems to many is unmovable object,” Agnew said. “And we are here excited to see what happens when an immovable object meets a seemingly unmovable object.”
He said his group seeks to end racial profiling and the “school-to-prison” pipeline that leads to such a high percentage of black youth to be incarcerated at such an early age.
Almost all under the age of 30, the group was joined by onstage by civil rights veterans like Dale Landry, the president of the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP.
“It’s an interesting moment and an interesting time,” Landry told the crowd while casting an eye toward looming storm clouds. “Dark clouds are gathering. We’re getting ready.”