Fla. Protesters Upset With Verdict Staying Put
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Protesters angered by the acquittal of George Zimmerman remained firmly in place at the Florida Capitol for a fourth straight day and repeated that they have no plans to leave, choosing to stay locked in for the weekend.
They continue to vow they would not leave until Gov. Rick Scott calls a special session to have legislators repeal the state’s “stand your ground” law.
Protest leaders met Thursday with Scott, but the governor told them he supported the law and would not call a special session.
Phillip Agnew, executive director of Dream Defenders, the main group behind the protest, described the standoff as “when an immovable object meets a seemingly unmovable object.”
He asserted that his group was offering Scott a “solution” by asking him to back legislation that would remove the law that allows someone to use deadly force if they believe their life is in danger. Agnew’s group also wants legislation to dissuade the use of racial profiling by police or other groups.
“We are not here to retry George Zimmerman,” Agnew said during an afternoon rally. “What we are here to do is to express our anger, our angst, our disappointment at the governor, at this state, for what happened under his watch.”
Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Travyon Martin who was unarmed. His attorneys argued that he shot Martin in self-defense, but the case sparked an outcry because Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
The standoff could go on for some time. The Republican-controlled Legislature is unlikely to reconsider the law it first passed in 2005. Bills to change “stand your ground” went nowhere during the 2013 session.
When the doors to the Capitol were locked on Friday roughly 85 people gathered in the rotunda. The group brought in board games, pillows, blankets and food in anticipation of being there for the entire weekend.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the agency had decided to allow the protesters to remain in the Capitol.