The sit-in demonstration in Gov. Rick Scott's office has reached its second day.
More than two dozen student activists, many part of an organization known as the Dream Defenders, spent the night in the building. They plan to stay until Scott calls a special session to re-assess the state's controversial Stand Your Ground law, Dream Defenders Director Phillip Agnew said.
The protest comes in response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal late Saturday in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“With us staying, it shows our dedication, our resilience and how passionate we are about the Travyon Martin case,” said Sherika Shaw, a 25-year-old teacher from North Lauderdale who recently completed her graduate studies at Florida State.
The group had hoped to meet with the governor Tuesday, but Scott was in New York.
The governor is scheduled to spend most of Wednesday in the Panhandle. It was not clear when he would return to Tallahassee, or if he planned to meet with the protesters.
“It’s not in his plan,” Agnew said. “But it wasn’t in Trayvon Martin’s plan to be murdered on his way home. Sometimes, we have to be flexible.”
The protesters had pizza for dinner Tuesday and slept on the linoleum flooring outside Scott’s office.
The following morning, they were joined by eight young adults from the Power U Center for Social Change in Miami. Rep. Alan Williams also stopped by, and let the group know he had been in touch with the Florida Caucus of Black State Legislators.
“We want [the students] to know that we are willing and ready to help them turn their ideas and thoughts into legislative proposals,” said Williams, a Tallahassee Democrat.
Williams added: “I don’t know why the governor hasn’t met with them. These citizens should be just as important as the CEOs of major companies he is trying to recruit to this state.”
Whether Scott will respond to the group's demands remains to be seen.
Past sit-in demonstrations have yielded results.
In 2006, a group of 30 college students (some of whom are involved in the current protest in the Capitol) staged a 33-hour sit-in responding to the beating death of Martin Lee Anderson at a Florida boot camp. The demonstration drew national attention, and helped prompt reform.
There was also a sit-in demonstration in 2000 after then Gov. Jeb Bush refused to rescind an executive order ending racial and gender preferences in university admissions. Kendrick Meek, then a state senator, and Tony Hill, then a state representative, occupied the lieutenant governor’s office for 20 hours. Their action was followed by one of the largest protests in state history.