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Protesters against Florida's 'stand your ground' law sit in at Gov. Scott's office

Protesters crowd into Gov. Rick Scott’s office at the Capitol in Tallahassee on Tuesday. Dream Defenders organized a sit-in to protest the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin. The governor was out of town, however.

Associated Press

Protesters crowd into Gov. Rick Scott’s office at the Capitol in Tallahassee on Tuesday. Dream Defenders organized a sit-in to protest the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin. The governor was out of town, however.

TALLAHASSEE — More than two dozen of the protesters who crowded Gov. Rick Scott's office Tuesday planned to spend the night in the Florida Capitol.

The activists, known as the Dream Defenders, want Scott to convene a special session of the Legislature to address the state's controversial "stand your ground'' law.

They also want Florida lawmakers to consider passing a Trayvon Martin Civil Rights Act.

"If the courts aren't going to deal with these issues, we have to call upon our elected officials to make changes," said Nailah Summers, 25, a Miami Beach native and president of the University of Florida chapter of the Dream Defenders.

The demonstration came three days after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The Dream Defenders flooded into Scott's office early Tuesday, and pledged to stay until they could meet with the governor.

There was just one problem: Scott was in New York.

The activists decided to wait.

"We're hoping (Scott) sees the seriousness of the issue and hurries home," said Ahmad Abuznaid, 28, the Dream Defender's legal and policy director. "We know New York is a great place to visit, but we have business to take care of here at home."

When the Capitol closed at 5 p.m., about two dozen activists were allowed to stay inside. They planned to eat leftover pizza and sleep on the tile floors. Sleeping bags are not allowed, a Capitol police officer said.

It wasn't clear when Scott would return to his office, or if he planned to meet with the activists.

But Scott spokeswoman Melissa Sellers pointed out that the governor had already convened a task force to review the stand your ground law last year.

"The task force recommended that the law should not be overturned and Governor Scott agrees," Sellers said.

Still, the protesters vowed not to give up.

"We are here because we need justice for Trayvon," said Estefania Galviz, a 22-year-old student from Jacksonville, who traveled to Sanford to hear the verdict and then made the trip to Tallahassee. "Trayvon represents the black and brown community and the youth of this country. Clearly, we are not treated equally."

Protesters against Florida's 'stand your ground' law sit in at Gov. Scott's office 07/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 11:50pm]
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