Hundreds of Florida A&M students and supporters marched to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s home late Thursday night in protest of his recommendation to the FAMU Board of Trustees that university president, James H. Ammons, be suspended immediately.
Breyon Love, FAMU Student Government Association president, outlined plans to march from a bustling Grand Ballroom on campus to the Governor’s Mansion on Duval and Brevard streets.
“We’re going to march to the governor’s mansion. Tonight!,” said Love to the roaring crowd. “Our list of demands are, one, justice for Robert Champion, two, to end the culture of hazing and three, we love Dr. Ammons. The governor needs to stay the hell out of our institution.”
Students, both FAMU and Florida State, and other protestors assembled outside of Lee Hall while Love and other SGA members convened with FAMU Police Department and Tallahassee Police Department officers to organize and determine the best way to ensure the march remained peaceful and did not interfere with traffic.
SGA member Tom Diamond said the focus of the march was aimed at the proposed suspension of the university’s president and “to show that we are united and that our voice will be heard.”
He also said that he represents the student body and that the number of people in attendance shows that the students are happy with Ammons and the direction that he is steering the university during this difficult time.
Upon arriving at the governor’s mansion, protestors gathered on the front lawn and sang the Alma Mater, chanted “We are FAMU” and locked arms in solidarity and prayer, attempting to wake the governor and coax him outside.
Patrick Shepherd, an FSU graduate, said he was in attendance to support FAMU and to stop Governor Scott from taking the chance “to attack the university” during the swirl of controversy that has surrounded the university in the past weeks.
After the students arrived, Steve MacNamara, Gov. Scott’s chief of staff exited the home and addressed Love and other members of SGA, eventually allowing them to enter and meet with Scott before he addressed the crowd.
“My goal is to listen to what your demands are,” said Scott, “I want FAMU to thrive, continue to have a reputation, be known for its academic excellence, be known for the quality of its students and to be known for the quality of its faculty.”
Love said he felt that the governor should allow the Board of Trustees and the university to make those decisions. “We think you over-stepped your boundary when you sent that recommendation. We don’t think that’s in the best interest of our student body, to have a leave of absence of our president.”
At 11 p.m. there was still a large crowd gathered on the lawn of the governor’s mansion.
Despite the demands made by Love, Scott made no comment whether he would reconsider his recommendation to suspend Ammons.
Love vowed that until the movement to suspend Ammons is rescinded, “we’re here to stay. Today. Tomorrow and forever.”