Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Dream Defenders

Kathleen McGrory has a good article on the history of the Dream Defenders. The organization was started by Phillip Agnew after the death of 14 year-old Martin Anderson in a Florida juvenile boot camp.

Agnew has experience with civil disobedience —and prolonged stays at the Florida Capitol.

He was the student body vice president at Florida A&M University when 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson was beaten to death at a Florida boot camp in 2006. At the time, Agnew was more interested in parties than protests. But when he realized that Martin Lee Anderson was the same age as his own little brother, Agnew joined student-led efforts to demonstrate at the capitol.

That’s when he got to know Gabriel Pendas and Ahmad Abuznaid, like-minded student leaders at Florida State University.

Agnew, Pendas and Abuznaid graduated from college and went their separate ways. They joined together again to stage a protest March after the George Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin made the news. Dream Defenders was created after that. Agnew makes a meager living running Dream Defenders full-time. All other staff works for free.

The Dream Defenders are in for the long haul.

The group leaders say they won’t leave until Scott has convened a special session to consider a Trayvon Martin Civil Rights Act, which would repeal the Stand Your Ground law, and end the school-to-prison pipeline that has led to a high percentage of young black men being incarcerated at an early age.

Update: the Dream Defenders spend fifth day outside Scott's office.

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