Gov. Rick Scott rejected a call for a special session on the Stand Your Ground law as he met late Thursday with student protesters who have spent most of the past three days camped outside his Capitol office, reports Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida.
Following the meeting, members of the Dream Defenders, a group leading the protest, vowed to remain at the Capitol as they pressed for changes to the 2005 self-defense law, which played a prominent role in the racially charged George Zimmerman case.
“We provided Gov. Scott the opportunity to show real leadership tonight and he did not rise to the call,” the Dream Defenders tweeted after the impromptu meeting. “Our demands have not been met. We are going to stay here until our demands are met. We are calling on the youth to band together now.”
Scott, who also faced pressure from Democratic lawmakers who took up the students’ cause, released a statement in which he expressed sympathy for the family of Trayvon Martin, the Miami Gardens teen who was fatally shot during an altercation with Zimmerman last year. Scott also advised the students to share their views with their state lawmakers.
“I also told them that I plan to call for a Statewide Day of Prayer for Unity in Florida this Sunday, July 21st,” Scott said in a news release. “We have a great state with wonderful, resilient people that rise to meet any challenge. While emotions run high, it is even more important that we join together to strengthen and support one another.”
As the students held vigil outside Scott’s first-floor office earlier Thursday, Democrats openly questioned if Scott was avoiding the issues as he traveled the past few days from New York to Pensacola to Tampa to Bradenton, promoting the state and announcing new private-sector jobs. The students have been at the Capitol since Tuesday morning.