Gov. Scott says no to demands of Zimmerman protesters
Protesters chant as they sit on the floor Tuesday in Gov. Rick Scott's office to demonstrate against the verdict of not guilty for George Zimmerman.
BY JAMES L. ROSICA Tribune staff
Published: July 17, 2013
Updated: July 17, 2013 at 03:23 PM
TALLAHASSEE - Estefania Galvis sat on the floor of the state Capitol on Tuesday, her homemade banner spread out before her: "End Racial Oppression, Justice 4 Trayvon."
Galvis, a 22-year-old University of South Florida student, was one of more than 100 protesters staging a sit-in Tuesday in Gov. Rick Scott's reception area at the Capitol. Scott was out of town.
The protest was sparked by the not-guilty verdict Saturday in the trial of George Zimmerman, charged with shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year.
On Tuesday, Galvis wore a black hoodie, a symbol of the movement. Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt the night he was killed. She and others want Scott to call a special legislative session on "vigilantism, racial profiling and a war on youth" and to repeal the state's "stand your ground" law, according to a flier being handed out by organizers.
That's not going to happen, said Scott's spokeswoman, who said the governor's "heart goes out to Trayvon Martin's family and all those affected by his death."
"We are grateful that people across our great nation have the right to assemble and share their views," said Melissa Sellers, Scott's communications director.
She pointed out that Scott called a "bipartisan special task force" to review the "stand your ground" law after Martin's death. That law, which grants a right to respond to an attack with deadly force, was not at issue in the criminal trial.
"The task force recommended that the law should not be overturned, and Gov. Scott agrees," Sellers said.
Galvis countered that "the system needs to be pressured to bring justice, not only for Trayvon, but for all black and brown youth in this country."
Zimmerman, a community-watch volunteer, shot the unarmed Martin during a February 2012 confrontation in a gated community in Sanford. Martin, who was visiting his father, was returning from a convenience store after buying iced tea and Skittles candy.
A struggle ensued, and Zimmerman said he fired a handgun in self-defense.
A six-member, female jury acquitted Zimmerman of all charges in Martin's death.
Many of Tuesday's protesters were part of a college-age group called the Dream Defenders that grew out of the Occupy movement. Another gathering of about 200 protested outside the old Capitol late Saturday.
One of the organizers of Dream Defenders, Ciara Taylor, made news last year by shouting down then-Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll as Carroll gave the keynote address for Florida A&M University's black history month convocation.
Steven Pargett, the group's spokesman, said members will stay as long as they have to for Scott to get their message, even if that means sleeping on the floor.
"We're willing to wait," Pargett said.
Rick Swearingen, director of the Capitol Police, said protesters will be allowed to stay overnight in the Capitol, provided they don't leave the first floor, where the Governor's Office is located. Restrooms are available on that level.
However, because the Capitol is closed to the public from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., protesters won't be able to re-enter if they leave. Officers patrol the building and grounds around the clock.
"As long as they're peaceful, I don't see it being a problem," Swearingen said.