By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog
TALLAHASSEE — There will be no more “mic checks,” cable news interviews or sleepovers at the Florida Capitol. The stand your ground protesters have gone home.
After occupying Gov. Rick Scott’s office for 31 days, the group known as Dream Defenders called it quits Thursday after lawmakers opted not to convene a special legislative session to address the group’s agenda.
Chief among their priorities was the repeal of Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law, which, according to the group, makes Florida less safe.
Floridians also approve 2-to-1, and a new Quinnipiac Poll shows a majority of Americans support the measure as well.
Initially, the protesters wanted Scott to declare a special session — the reason they targeted his office. Scott met with the protesters three days after the sit-in began but said he agreed with the law and instead called for a day prayer.
The protesters tried to bypass the governor by gaining legislative support. If three-fifths of the 160-member Legislature agreed with them, a special session could be triggered.
But that effort fell short when the Florida Secretary of State announced Wednesday that after 120 votes only 37 lawmakers wanted to reconvene. The magic number of 96 was out of reach.
House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, promptly took to twitter:
As of Thursday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the state had spent $428,566 in security costs during the month-long protest, reported the News Service of Florida.
The sit-in was peaceful and began as a reaction to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Sanford neighborhood watchman who shot and killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin.
Several civil rights leaders made appearances to express support, including Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte and Julian Bond.
Capitol police confirmed the protest ended shortly before the building’s 5 p.m. closing on Thursday, and added the governor’s mansion was likely the group’s next meeting location.
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