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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Confusion reigns during protest's second weekend



The Dream Defenders had an eventful second weekend in the Florida Capitol.

On Saturday, the group had a visitor: former state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston.

Despite a policy prohibiting any non-employees from entering the building after 5 p.m. Friday, Rich "was allowed into the Capitol by a Senate staff member with key card access," according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Rich, who is running for governor, spent the early afternoon chatting with the student activists. The group is trying to pressure Gov. Rick Scott to hold a special session addressing Stand Your Ground, racial profiling and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Later in the day, there was some confusion surrounding an attempted food delivery.

Dream Defenders Director Phillip Agnew told The Herald/Times that a Capitol staffer had tried to enter the building with sandwich meat for the protesters, but that Capitol police had turned away the delivery. The young activists took to Twitter to announce that they were being denied food and water, capturing the attention of music producer Russell Simmons, who retweeted the posts.

Shortly thereafter, FDLE was flooded with phone calls.

"Just before 3 p.m., the FDLE watch desk was overwhelmed with calls from protesters shutting down the ability of law enforcement agencies across Florida to make requests for AMBER Alerts, and officer-involved shootings and crime-scene assistance," the department wrote in an incident report on Sunday. "Temporary phone lines were established and a message was sent asking law enforcement agencies to contact FDLE on the temporary lines.  Additional watch desk staff members reported to work to assist with the call volume increase."  

The FDLE said the person who tried to enter was actually a "non-employee" with doughnuts.

"The individual was not allowed access per previously established policy," the report said.

The FDLE report also noted that overtime costs for Capitol Police had reached $68,777 since the protest began.

Early Monday, the Dream Defenders posted photographs of Capitol staffers removing the portraits of former governors from the hallway outside Scott's office. Some employees had expressed concerns about the portraits getting bumped.

The Dream Defenders are planning their own special session for Tuesday. The event begins at 12:45 p.m. with a march from Scott's office to the Old Capitol, where the mock special session will take place. 

[Last modified: Monday, July 29, 2013 11:39am]


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