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Rev. Jesse Jackson joins Dream Defenders

Since Gov. Rick Scott won’t call a special session to address the Stand Your Ground law, student protestors called their own mock session on Tuesday, with the help of a special speaker: the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jackson said he would be joining the students, known as the Dream Defenders, for  “at least one night” outside the governor’s office. 

“He’ll be on the floor with the rest of us,” said Dream Defenders Executive Director Phillip Agnew.

 Jackson is the second national figure to visit the young protestors in two weeks. Singer Harry Belafonte spoke to the group on Friday.

 “Stand Your Ground laws must end," Jackson said. "We intend to sit-in so justice can stand up." 

The students have spent the past two weeks camped in the Florida Capitol. They have pledged not to leave until Scott calls a special session addressing the Stand Your Ground law, the number of young adults in prisons and racial profiling.

While Scott was announcing that the Golf Channel is expanding its worldwide headquarters in Orlando on Tuesday, Jackson was sitting outside the governor’s office, listening to the young Defenders talk about their own experiences and why they were there.

“This is a student movement at its best,” said a soft-spoken Jackson, wearing a Dream Defenders T-shirt. “They’re following the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi in staging a nonviolent protest. It’s the definition of patriotism.”

During the gathering, dubbed the “People Session,”  the group pronounced four resolutions:  Declaring Tuesdays “Takeover Tuesday” to mark their first day of protest in the capital; declaring Trayvon Martin Day on his birthday, Feb. 5th; calling for a day of mobilization at the capital on Friday; and calling for the pardon of Jacksonville resident Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years after firing a pistol at her abusive husband that missed.

“We’re going to bring in more adults and more ministers and more bishops, more students from around the state to mobilize in Tallahassee,” Jackson told the group.

“The image of Florida,” he said, “is better than its record.”

Jackson said that "Florida has a rather devious record of undermining voter rights," saying that felon disenfranchisement laws affect one in every four African Americans.