For the past three weeks, a group of about 50 young protesters have slept on the floors of the Florida capitol state building to urge lawmakers to change Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law.
The Dream Defenders began organizing against the law after George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin. In the past weeks, Harry Belafonte and Jesse Jackson have stood with the protesters.
Three days into their protest, the group met with Gov. Rick Scott, who did not allow them the special legislative session they are demanding to repeal the law. Scott told them he agreed with the state's Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection that backed the "Stand Your Ground" law in February.
Some experts have called their efforts to get Florida lawmakers to appeal or to make major reform of the law useless.
"Gun rights are big, especially with the blue dog Democrats that Republicans need in Florida," Lance deHaven-Smith, a political scientist at Florida State University told Reuters. "This law is not repealable. Certainly not by the present legislature."
But the Dream Defenders plan to stand their ground until a special session is called with the legislature.
"This is just one tactic we have, focusing on the governor's office," said Phillip Agnew, a young union activist from Miami who is the leader of the group. "We are also contacting legislators in their districts."
The National Bar Association, which represents African-American lawyers and judges, threw its weight behind the initiative on Monday and called for Scott to hold a special legislative session to review the Stand Your Ground law.
"Quite simply. You've given a license to kill, to shoot first and ask questions later. It's a return to the Wild West and Dodge City," said the association's president, John Page.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Phil Sears)
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