Following up on Rachel's segment from last night, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) finally worked his way back to his own office last night, and grudgingly agreed to meet with protestors who'd literally camped out this week, pleading with the governor to have a conversation with them about the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law.
"It is a time for leadership. The world is watching, most definitely the nation is watching, and you have an opportunity to stand tall above the rest," one of the protesters told Scott.
The governor was unmoved.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday told a group of protesters that he will not call for changes in the state's self-defense laws following George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.The Republican governor returned to Tallahassee late Thursday and for nearly an hour met with seven members of the protest group that has been camped in part of his office for three days."The protesters again 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," Scott said in a statement following the meeting. "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 Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection that Scott referenced was led by Jennifer Carroll, Florida's former lieutenant governor, who resigned in disgrace earlier this year.
Regardless, it appears direct appeals to the governor's conscience fell short of protestors' hopes, but looking ahead, they are not without allies. Indeed, just yesterday, leading Democrats in Florida's state legislature renewed calls for either repealing the "Stand Your Ground" measure or enacting sweeping changes to prevent unnecessary bloodshed.
"This bill actually encourages people to shoot their way out of situations and that's not how we live in a civilized society," [Florida Senate Democratic leader Chris Smith] told a news conference. "It's a mentality that has permeated the state of Florida. It's a mentality of shoot first, and we should not have that in a civilized society."Smith was joined by Florida House Democratic leader Perry Thurston. Both called for a special session of the state's Republican-dominated legislature to overhaul the law or consider doing away with it.Unless Florida lawmakers act quickly, calls for a boycott of the state like the one voiced by Motown legend Stevie Wonder are likely to grow as part of a mounting backlash, they warned. Civil rights groups also are calling for changes in the law.
A legislative remedy is, in all likelihood, a longshot. Republican majorities control both chambers of the state legislature, and the body itself is in recess. Scott could call a special session, but given his remarks last night, the pressure from the public would have to be enormous before he'd even consider the possibility.
There is, however, another avenue: the Democratic leaders of both the state House and State Senate said yesterday that if GOP policymakers ignored their pleas, they would pursue a ballot initiative, confident that they could collect the necessary number of signatures.