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Florida Occupation Digs in After Meeting with Governor Scott Turns Sour

Governor Rick Scott speaking at CPAC FL in Orlando, Florida. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Michael Sampson, an organizer with a group that has been occupying Florida’s capitol building since Monday afternoon, says that Florida governor Rick Scott unexpectedly came to Tallahassee last night to meet with the occupiers.

The group, known as the Dream Defenders, had been requesting a meeting because they want Scott to call a special legislative session to address topics including the acquittal of George Zimmerman, racial profiling, and what they call “the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The occupiers say their concerns were not addressed, however, and vowed to continue their occupation until a special legislative session is called. Here’s how they tweeted it:

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This means that the occupiers will start their first weekend in the capitol building tonight. The doors to the capitol building are locked from the outside on nights and weekends, so after 5:00 today, many occupiers will be locked inside the capitol until Monday morning.

“Those who occupy the capitol will be in here all weekend,” Sampson said. “Those who want to leave will be allowed to, but there’s no way back in.”

The Dream Defenders first heard that Scott was going to meet with them after they appeared on Chris Hayes’ All In on MSNBC. Sampson said that he was elated at first after hearing the news. While he himself was unable to attend the meeting, which lasted for about 45 minutes, he said that the consensus among those who were there was one of disappointment.

“He really had no legislative material solution to getting rid of racial profiling,” Sampson said. “He seemed really indifferent to it.”

Scott suggested that the occupiers work with their state-level representatives to address their issues, Sampson said. After the meeting, he proposed a “statewide day of prayer” on Sunday.

A Commitment of Support

Meanwhile, the occupation is digging in for the long haul.

“We’re gonna be here until our demands are met,” Sampson said, and described efforts to make sure occupiers are reasonably well-fed and comfortable, despite a crackdown on the use of sleeping bags:

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Dale Landry, who serves as president of the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP, says that the NAACP is prepared to support the occupiers during what could be a long stint in the capitol building. He’s especially concerned about relations between the police and the protesters.

“These police officers at the capitol aren’t very much involved in issues where you have civil disobedience, especially with children,” said Landry, who is a retired police officer himself. “You can tell that this is wearing on some of them.”

Landry’s solution to that problem is to bring in older, retired NAACP supporters—a group he says will be diverse in race—and have them camp out with the occupiers. While he wasn’t able to provide the exact number of senior citizens who had committed to do this at the time of this writing, he said that he’d sent a message to the organization’s “retired citizens’ network.”

“We don’t think they’re gonna do anything when they’re dealing with senior citizens,” he says. “If someone has to go to jail, they’ll be the first ones to go.”

Sampson mentioned that the occupiers also expect to see support from local churches, especially on this coming Sunday.