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Dream Defenders sit-in continues

By staff |
August 2, 2013
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Tallahassee, FL - On July 16, around 100 members of the youth civil rights organization Dream Defenders flooded the Florida Capitol and marched to the office of Governor Rick Scott. Their demand was simple: Justice for Trayvon Martin and pass Trayvon's Law.

As of Aug. 2, Dream Defenders have held steady in the office of Governor Rick Scott since then with no signs of leaving - even after Governor Scott meets with members of the organization just days after they started their occupation.

"The Governor tried to pacify us within the first week of us being here," said Florida State University (FSU) Dream Defender President Brian Marshall. "He has shown that, under his reign, he has zero compassion for the lives of Black and Brown youth and has shown zero leadership in response to the Trayvon Martin tragedy. We aren't leaving until he answers for his crimes to the youth of this state."

Dream Defenders are calling for Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to pass a bill called Trayvon's Law, which would address factors of racism and national oppression that contribute to a climate that leads to the death of Black and Brown youth every day.

"We are demanding that laws be put in place to stop racial profiling practices by law enforcement officers, that the school-to-prison pipeline that ruins the life of millions of youth nationally be addressed in Florida by the repealing of zero tolerance laws and that the Stand Your Ground Law be repealed," said Regina Joseph, Vice President of Dream Defenders at FSU. "All these laws create a climate of racial oppression that lead to the death of Trayvon Martin, but will continue to lead to more tragedy of Black and Brown life until we stop it."

Aug. 2 marked day 17 of the Dream Defenders’ "Dream In" at the Florida capitol, with national support coming from everywhere.

"We have had youth from Philadelphia to the Bronx come out in full force to Tallahassee to support us here," said Michael Sampson, an organizer with Tallahassee Dream Defenders. "The support is amazing as we understand that this action is an important step to building a real national movement against the racist practices of the school-to-prison pipeline and institutional racism."

On July 26, civil rights icon Harry Belafonte paid a visit to the capitol to support the youth organization’s goals of Justice for Trayvon Martin. On July 30, another civil rights legend, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, flew into Tallahassee to support the Dream Defenders. Jackson even chanted with Dream Defenders as they yelled, "We believe that we will win!" and slept in the capitol with the activists.

"What's exciting is these students coming alive," said Jackson. "We are in this sit-in so justice can stand up. This is an emergency. People are crying out and people are hurting," in reference to the racist laws that plague communities of color in Florida, like voter suppression, the school-to-prison pipeline, the Stand Your Ground law and racial profiling.

One thing that is clear is that the Dream In shows no signs of letting up.

“If we don't stand up now for the injustices that people of color face in this state, and this country, we will never truly be free,” said Dream Defender Issis Alvarez. “The injustices may not be as evident as they were 60 years ago, but because of that it's even more important to bring them to the light and take action.”

For more information on how you can support Dream Defenders, visit dreamdefenders.org.

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