TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - New security measures were proposed after the group called the Dream Defenders held a sit-in at Florida's capitol last year. Gov. Rick Scott has signed off on a new security plan, but some say it goes too far.
The Dream Defenders were back at the Capitol for the opening of Legislative session, but none brought sleeping bags this time.
Group members made the Capitol their home from mid-July to mid-August of last year. They were protesting the Trayvon Martin verdict and Florida's stand-your-ground law.
"The security plan was worked on through [the Florida Department of Law Enforcement] and Capitol police. They're responsible for this and it was a proposal they made, and I signed off on it," said Scott.
Under the new rules, the public will have to be out by 5 p.m.
"You should not try to stifle community participation," said Rev. R.B. Holmes. "This is America, not communism."
Holmes was the vice chairman for the governor's Stand Your Ground task force. He supports the Dream Defenders and said the plan to ban overnight protests oversteps its bounds
"It sends a bad message that we're going to try to settle or to cripple folks right to express their concerns as it relates to public policies," Holmes said.
Even though they can no longer spend the night, the Dream Defenders plan on being very active for the 60-day legislative session.
"We feel like people need to have their voices heard during legislative session, so we're bringing people here for legislative session," said Ciara Taylor, of the Dream Defenders.
The house speaker and Senate president have also signed off on the new security plan.
The public will be allowed at the Capitol after 5 p.m. if there are special events going on or if they are accompanied by someone with a Capitol Access Card.
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