Follow-Up: The Dream Defenders continue their efforts and went live on Ustream to showcase them

Stacey Pasternak

Gonzalo Vizcardo (standing) and other protesters from the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition meet in front of FAU Stadium in March 2013. The group, now known as FAU Voices, are bussing back to Tallahassee as the FAU chapter of ʺDream Defendersʺ to lobby for Trayvon's Law in Governor Rick Scott's office. Photo by Michelle Friswell.​
Gonzalo Vizcardo (standing) and other protesters from the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition meet in front of FAU Stadium in March 2013. The group, now known as FAU Voices, are bussing back to Tallahassee as the FAU chapter of ʺDream Defendersʺ to lobby for Trayvon’s Law in Governor Rick Scott’s office. Photo by Michelle Friswell.​

Live Stream: Dream Defenders in the Florida Capitol

The Dream Defenders are quickly discovering that the dream they are bent on defending can indeed become reality.

In the Dream Defenders live Ustream video at 3:00 p.m. on August 15, Dream Defenders Phillip Agnew, the executive director of the movement, starts off the special conference.

People wearing black shirts with fonts that match their banner of #TakeOverFL and signs in the same style stand behind their banner as a man walks us to them and examines them. He then starts off their song: “We who believe in freedom cannot rest, we who believe in justice cannot rest until it’s done… it is as important as the killing of white men… we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it’s won.” Then, the man thanks everyone for joining them and starts off their press conference.

“Good afternoon,” Agnew said. “I genuinely don’t know what to say. Usually, I like to have everything together in my head… today, with my mind set on freedom, I wasn’t able to think of anything to say.” He says that by calling the Dream Defenders protestors, it is not a valid recognition of who they are. They came to the capital because they “wanted a seat at the table.” If not, they would sleep on the floor until the legislators gave them what is theirs, which is exactly what they did. For 31 days and 30 nights they have slept on the floor of the capitol building. Their goal, according to Agnew, is not only to pass Trayvon’s law, but to show everyone “what democracy looks like.”

Their accomplishments are as follows:

  • They stayed there longer than anybody else in the history of the capitol.
  • They made a poll possible that was said to have been doomed.
  • They led the Speaker of the House to have a hearing for Stand Your Ground that the Speaker wouldn’t have even had if not for the Dream Defenders.
  • They secured a meeting with the FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) for ending racial profiling.
  • They will be having an upcoming meeting with the heads of the Departments of Education and Juvenile Justice for changes and bills that can be made to get rid of the school-to-prison pipeline.

“Our work and our power, grown too big for these halls,” Agnew said, evoking snaps from the spectators. “And this is the last time I’m going to sleep on any floor.”

With all these accomplishments in mind, though, they have not gotten their special session just yet. They did secure support of 20% of the legislature for said session.

“This [support] triggers a formal poll by the Secretary of State of the entire legislature,” FAU senior and economics and anthropology double-major Gonzalo Vizcardo said.

There are three ways in which a special legislative session can be called.

“The Governor can call one, the Senate president and House Speaker can call one, or 20% of the legislature can request one, in which case the Secretary of State polls the entire legislature on whether to have one. If 60% of the legislature supports it, the session is called,” Vizcardo said.

Student government member Didier Ortiz made it clear that while they didn’t get a special session at this time, the Dream Defenders did hold a mock special session for themselves called the People’s Session and that the FAU House of Representatives will be voting on the tabled resolution of “Support for Dialogue and Understanding” on Sept. 6, 2013 in the Senate Chambers at FAU.

“I encourage all students to come down and share their opinions regarding Stand Your Ground, Second Amendment rights and race relations in America,” Ortiz said. “I believe dialogue is imperative in representative governments.”

Whatever the weather, Ortiz will stand with the movement. He views the Dream Defenders as a force for positive action in our state’s universities.

“The premises of the resolution, I assure you, will still be relevant and true after the special session takes place,” Ortiz said.

The open forum of the House is open to all students, and the representatives would love to hear your input. If you’re interested, come out on Sept. 6th at 3:30 p.m. and make your voice heard.

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The Original Dream Defenders Story can be seen here.