Florida Governor Rick Scott met with protesters in Tallahassee Thursday night and reiterated that he still supports the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.
The group of protesters, who call themselves the “Dream Defenders,” had been occupying and sleeping in the Florida capitol building for three days. They said they wouldn’t leave until they personally met with Scott and until he called a special legislative session to address the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law through what they’re calling the “Trayvon Martin Act.”
George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer, did not employ a “Stand Your Ground” defense, saying he shot Martin in self-defense after the teen attacked him. He was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
In a statement released by his office, Scott said, “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.”
He added that he spoke to Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton earlier in the evening and expressed his sympathies for everyone affected by Trayvon Martin’s death.
Phillip Agnew, the executive director of “Dream Defenders,” said on All In with Chris Hayes that, “Though we could be angry, and though we could destroy cities as the media would like to say we would do, we’ve decided to direct our anger in a way that moves us forward.”
Rachel Maddow described on her show Thursday night how the protest numbers have grown over the last few days. “That first night, Tuesday night, about 30 people spent the night in the governor’s office. The second night, last night, it went up to about 50 people spending the night in the governor’s office. Tonight, Thursday night, we are told it is closer to 70 people rolling out sleeping bags and planning to stay all night,” she said. “The Capitol police in Tallahassee have so far said that these protesters are free to stay as long as they do not interrupt official business.”
Democratic State Sen. Dwight Bullard told Chris Hayes, “We’ve given the governor a number of options. I’ve sponsored full-on repeals of ‘Stand Your Ground.’ I’ve also sponsored an amendment to ‘Stand Your Ground.’”
A tweet by the Dream Defenders group after their meeting with Scott indicated they weren’t yet satisfied.
Rick Scott decided not to be a leader tonight! We believe in the power of the people! we need you all here @ 10am tomorrow #TrayvonMartinAct
— The Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) July 19, 2013
In his statement, Scott announced a “Statewide Day of Prayer for Unity in Florida” for this Sunday, July 21. “We have a great state with wonderful, resilient people that rise to meet any challenge. While emotions run high, it is even more important that we join together to strengthen and support one another,” he said.