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Using a clever and little-known tactic of calling for a Special Session, the Dream Defenders forced pro-Scott legislators to take sides. Who are the Dream Defenders? What have they done so far?

Friday, JoanMar posted an excellent diary about the Dream Defenders. Four people responded to the included poll with the question, "Who are the Dream Defenders?"  So I thought I'd take a moment or two to answer that question.

The Dream Defenders are a diverse group of activists led by youth (mostly black and brown) who are working for peace, love and understanding, who are working for liberty and justice for all, who are working to change societal norms so that tragedies like Trayvon Martin's murder and travesties like his murderer's trial will cease to exist.

I have been fortunate to be a part of the Dream Defenders' movement over the past 33 days. They have been amazingly effective so far, and I have learned so much from these young people. I think we ALL can learn a lot from them, thus this diary. Follow me beyond the dreamy orange squiggle of defense with power to read about the incredible things these young people have accomplished in the last month...

Last Thursday, August 15, the Dream Defenders ended their 31 day and 30 night occupation of the State Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida. Their occupation had begun on the Tuesday following the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Instead of rioting, as some predicted they would do, they peacefully made their way to Florida Governor Rick Scott's office. They went there to demand that he call a special session of the Florida Legislature to examine and rectify the Florida laws and policies that resulted in the murderer of a seventeen year old being let off scot free. Specifically, they wanted the legislature to consider Florida's Stand Your Ground law, the reality of Racial Profiling in Florida, and the tragedy of Florida's School-to-Prison pipeline that shatters the dreams of young Floridians and their families while profiting the prison industrial system. Was a tall order.

Governor Scott was out of town when the Dream Defenders arrived, so they decided to stay until he agreed to meet with them. At 5:00 pm that Tuesday, the capitol doors were locked and the Dream Defenders slept on the hard marble floor. Surely the governor would show up tomorrow.
But show up he didn't, so the Dream Defenders waited. And waited. And finally on July 18th, the governor showed up.
The meeting was peaceful and cordial but it didn't go well, at least not from the Dream Defenders' and their supporters' perspective. Here's what Gainesville's local WUFT reported on it:
UF Dream Defenders Chapter President Nailah Summers sat in at a meeting with Scott Thursday night, in which he said he does not feel the stand your ground law should be changed, and denied the group’s request for a special session.

Summers said Scott did not display the leadership she expected, as he asked them to simply talk to their local legislators.

“He patted himself on the back for a lot of things in that meeting,” Summers said. “He also said, as far as racial profiling, that he’s not for it. He told us to make some very specific suggestions, and also told us to go back to our local legislators.”

The Dream Defenders, however, were not deterred. They knew there was another way to get a special session to happen. They could get 32 Florida State Legislators to write to the Speaker of the House and request a special session. If 32 Florida State Legislatures were to do so, then the Speaker of the House would be obligated to poll the rest of the legislators, and if 60% or more of the body agreed, a special session would be called.

So the Dream Defenders hunkered down determined to successfully implement Plan B. They stayed in the capitol for the next 28 days writing letters, making phone calls, organizing events and generally doing what it took, all under the watchful eye of Florida's finest.

And guess what??  The Dream Defenders did what no one in the history of Florida who wasn't a legislator had ever done. They got not just 32, but 33 letters!  So the poll was triggered and now they know where every single legislator in this state stands on ending policies that lead to the unnecessary and tragic deaths of our children.

No, a special session isn't going to happen, but the Dream Defenders know that their work at the capitol is done for now. They are going back to colleges all over Florida, indeed all over the United States. They have declared that they will register 61,550 voters in Florida before the Nov. 4 elections, which happens to be the number of votes that Rick Scott won by in 2010. They have presented Gov. Scott with an eviction notice effective that date. They have done what they came to do, and they know that this is just one step towards justice.

(Also, here's a link to a video of the eviction notice, I can't figure out how to embed it.)

So, the Dream Defenders are home but they're not gone. I can assure you of that as one of them is picking me up soon to canvas in our part of town for a few hours. And on August 28th, the Dream Defenders have been given a brief spot to speak at the culmination of the 50th Anniversary March on Washington at the very spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. There is no doubt in my mind that the young Dream Defenders will meet their goals; they're in it for the long run.

In parting, I'd like to leave you with my favorite picture to date. These are a few of the people I've come to know, love, and respect over the past month. Please support the Dream Defenders!

Announcing: New Daily Kos group: Support the Dream Defenders

We Publish: Friday evenings, 5 PM EDT, 2 PM PDT

First diary: DREAM DEFENDERS, Day 18: Can anyone get justice if there is no justice for Trayvon Martin? by DefendOurConstitution

The Dream Defenders are fighting for justice in Florida. Their goal is to enact Trayvon's Law in Florida, which would repeal the Stand Your Ground law, ban racial profiling, and end the school-to-prison pipeline.

Support the Dream Defenders is a Daily Kos community whose goal is to promote and support the Dream Defenders, online and off.

Please join us!

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About the Daily Kos group Support the Dream Defenders

The Dream Defenders are fighting for justice in Florida. Their mission is to enact Trayvon's Law in Florida, which would repeal the Stand Your Ground law, ban racial profiling, and end the school-to-prison pipeline.

Support the Dream Defenders is a Daily Kos community. We  promote and support the Dream Defenders, online and off.

How To Join Us: Send us a kosmail.

How to Follow Us: Go to our diaries page and click the ♥. If you are a Kossack, when you Follow a person or group, their diaries will appear in your Stream. As an example, here is the Stream of one of our most respected members. Note: Joining and Following are completely separate functions in DK4.

How to Find Our Diaries: Our next group diary. All diaries published and republished by our group.

How to Find Our Groupmail Inbox: DK4 groupmail inboxes are notoriously difficult to find, because we receive no "You have mail" signal. If you have Editor status, and you want to participate, please bookmark our group kosmail inbox, and check it as frequently as you want to participate. That page does not refresh itself, either.

Kossacks in Florida: We welcome your reports and pictures about your orange feet-on-the-ground protests and organizing in support of the Dream Defenders. Please use our comments and/or group kosmail to confidentially locate nearby Floridians who support the Dream Defenders and build networks. If you have never written a diary, we will help you. Ask us anything.

Note:  Support the Dream Defenders is a community of Kossacks. Each of us is opposed to the Stand Your Ground law in Florida. We are an action group dedicated to supporting the passage of Trayvon's Law in Florida. We do not need to debate the merits of SYG laws or 2nd Amendment issues in our action diaries. If you want to argue, go start your own DK group and/or go write your own diary.

Please click here to donate to the Dream Defenders.
Join the Black Kos family on Tuesdays and Fridays at 4 PM EDT.

Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 8:21 AM PT: Diary updated to correct the date of the march. The correct date is 8/24/13.

Originally posted to Support the Dream Defenders on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 01:22 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges and The First and The Fourth.

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