By Vanessa Martin
In their quest to fight Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, Dream Defenders, the Miami-based protesters, aren’t just continuing a 25-day sit-in at Gov. Rick Scott’s office.
Thursday, they announced a voter drive with a very specific target in mind: 61,500 people, the number of votes by which the governor won in 2010.
“The Dream Defenders value many things: we value love, we value peace, we value unity, and more than anything, we value the power of our vote,” Dream Defenders Executive Director Philip Agnew said at a press conference. Watch the video above.
The drive is in response to Scott’s intent to resume his controversial voter purge, Agnew said. “We intend to register the people that are forgotten: the black, the brown, the indigent, the poor, the LGBTQ community.”
“So when the time comes again, for use to move on issues like the school-to-prison pipeline, like Stand Your Ground, we won’t have to sit on the floor again,” he said referring to their almost month-long protest at the Florida capitol. “Instead we can have our issues heard by lawmakers who genuinely care about these issues because they come from our community.”
With the fall semester right around the corner, Agnew said Dream Defenders plan to achieve their goal with the help of the organization’s six chapters at schools across the state: Florida International University, Miami Dade College, Florida A&M, Florida State, and the Universities of Florida, Central Florida, and South Florida.
“It’s a call to action to young people around the state, to get ready, because voting time is coming. It’s time for our voices to be heard,” Agnew said.
In addition to fighting Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, the group hopes new legislation will address school-based arrests and exclusionary disciplines, “zero tolerance” policies, analysis of school-based arrest data, and police training on racial and bias-based profiling.
Agnew also joked about hitting up Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) on Twitter to participate in a televised debate.
Although Gaetz was appointed to chair hearings on the state’s controversial law, last week he said he doesn’t support changing “one damn comma of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.”