The Dream Defenders Storm the Capitol

Students in the Rotunda Room at the Florida Capitol Photo By JhaRonte James

Today marked the first day of the Legislative Session in the Florida. The Dream Defenders congregated inside the capitol singing and chatting, “I believe; I believe we will win,” and “Good kids mad cities.”[In reference to the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis Cases]

The Senate called a recess as they waited for Florida Governor Rick Scott to arrive at the third floor to give his State of the State Address. The Governor’s address spotlighted problems in Florida and how he has fixed them.

Amanda Merced, a criminology student from Hollywood, Fla., and vice president of the FSU chapter of the Dream Defenders came to address the governor before he gave is address.

Merced said, “He ended up bypassing us and taking a backdoor route into the Senate Chambers.”

The Dream Defenders released a YouTube video moments after leaving the capitol showing citizens who have been oppressed by Florida judicial system. The video advocated concerns involving youth of color: the state’s juvenile prison system, and the controversial Stand your Ground law.

On the way toward the Chambers they lined up to hand out “report cards” to some of the Senators. The report cards

congratulated them with an “A” plus for “assignments” such as: disproportional number of black and brown prisoners, breaking up undocumented families, and robust school-to-prison pipeline system to fill all beds.

Jordan Gregory, an English  student from Tallahassee, Fla., and member of the Dream Defenders came to support the cause and address what he views as "real" issues in the state.

Gregory stated, “The Dream Defenders came to do a ‘State of the Youth Address’ about—real – problems we’re facing rather than what the government likes to state as real problems.”  

Marion Rollins, a Senior Social Work Student from Tallahassee, FL, said State of the Sate address would not represent the public's issues.

"Who can represent us better than ousrselves, our youth is under attack in Florida. Our youth is under attack in America," Rollins Said.

Law enforcement lined the walls of the lobby on the third floor and even ordered the crowd to stop singing or leave. Merced said, “we had a right to be there, and of course they didn’t kick us out.”

Merced went on to say, “We just wanted to be heard and to let them know we’re getting people educated on the justice system that’s in place right now and how it needs to be changed.”