Dream Defenders show up at State of the State address

Author: Matt Galka, Reporter, Capitol News Service
Published On: Mar 04 2014 04:45:20 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

While lawmakers got to work inside their chambers Tuesday morning for the start of Florida’s annual legislative session, a much different scene was developing in the halls -- the return of the Dream Defenders to the Capitol.

By the time the governor began his State of the State address around 11 a.m., the group left the halls peacefully.

The floor between the House and Senate was shaking under the weight of the Dream Defenders.

The group returned on day one of legislative session. Their presence wasn’t exactly welcomed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Miami Rep. Daphne Campbell tried to keep the peace after the FDLE intervened in the demonstration on the Capitols’ fourth floor.

“What they’re doing is for a good cause," said Campbell. "In school they have the statutes of zero tolerance, where they arrest a lot of kids for no reason. They’re fighting for justice and I don’t think they should be punished for it.”

The same group that occupied the Capitol for more than a month this past summer said they’re more familiar with how the process works this time around.

“I think what’s changed is our knowledge of the Capitol, what the political process is all about and the importance of lobbying during legislative session to prevent more bills that could be dangerous,” said Ciara Taylor of Dream Defenders.

"We’re a people power group,” Taylor said when asked if they are now a lobby group.

The group protested Florida’s "stand your ground" law in 2013 and called for a repeal. This year, they said changes to the law -- like allowing a potential victim to fire a warning shot and not face penalty -- would be considered a win.