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I spent a couple of hours this morning strategizing with local Dream Defenders.  What an honor and inspiration for me to have these amazing young people sit around my dining room table and talk about real steps we can take to make Gainesville, Alachua County, Florida, and the United States a safer place for children, young adults, all humans and other living beings!  Our focus today was local and our emphasis has been on protecting young black and brown youth in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.

Today I'd like to give y'all something of a synopsis of my early experiences with the remarkable Dream Defenders and their supporters in the days after July 13, 2013, the day the "not guilty" verdict came down.  Many thanks to Joan Mar for making this diary possible.  The rest is below the orange squiggle of justice...

July 13, 2013 - Peaceful Rally in Gainesville the day of the verdict before it came down

Rally at The Bartley Temple United Methodist Church in Gainesville With Nancy Jones and Julian
About 30 people gathered on this rainy afternoon in Gainesville to talk about justice issues surrounding the trial and how the community could come together to make things better, regardless of the verdict.  Local coverage here:

July 13, 2013 - After the verdict, a gathering at Bo Diddley Plaza, Gainesville

After the rally, I went home.  The trial livestream was down and I was monkeying around with other stuff on my computer when all of a sudden my speakers started making noise.  It was the livestream coming back and saying that the verdict was about to be announced.  I listened.  I heard not guilty.  I was numb.  I didn't know what to do.

Then I got a message from Occupy Gainesville that said "put on your hoodies, grab a candle, and get down to the Plaza, NOW!"  I did, and about 20 of us gathered there and mourned and sang and comforted one another.  Many who gathered were from Occupy, many other were Dream Defenders.  I saw several faces I'd seen at the rally just a few hours prior.  We agreed to meet on Sunday to plan an action for Monday at the Department of Justice in Gainesville.  Lots of hugging went down, it was healing.

July 14, 2013 - Sunday's Emergency Planning meeting

The Dream Defenders called the meeting.  The Dream Defenders had been averaging about a half dozen people at each of its meetings in the past year or two.  About 70 people showed up at this one.  President Nailah Summers and vice-president Lauren Byers were amazingly effective at keeping the meeting on track and getting results, and the meeting was over in less than two hours with firm plans for the following day.

July 15 - DOJ protest goes down, Gainesville

Over 100 people showed up to demand that the Department of Justice re-examine the Zimmerman case under Federal Civil Rights statutes.

Local coverage link:

July 16 - Day one of Occupation of Governor Rick Scott's office

Waiting patiently for the governor.  He's a busy guy, but we've got all the patience in the world.  As long as we don't get shot and killed for being here, we intend to stay until a special session is called.
And so the occupation began.  The Dream Defenders and their supporters began the first day of what has now been a 19 day occupation of Governor Rick Scott's office.  They are determined not to leave until Florida calls a special session of the legislature to address the issues that led up to the murder of an innocent teenager and the acquittal of his murderer.  Specifically, they are calling for the legislature to discuss and debate three issues:

1-Stand your ground
2-Racial profiling
3-The school-to-prison pipeline

This video gets a bit ahead of the game I've laid out here, but it is the finest I've seen so far.  I hope you watch it and share it widely!

Will write more later, lord willin' and the creeks don't rise.  Thanks.

Originally posted to nancyjones on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 01:58 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Florida, Black Kos community, Barriers and Bridges, LatinoKos, White Privilege Working Group, Hellraisers Journal, Support the Dream Defenders, and Community Spotlight.

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