On March 4th, the first day of Florida's 2014 legislative session, youth and concerned Floridians will gather outside the Capitol to express concerns over the criminalization of Black and brown youth. The Dream Defenders, an organization of youth fighting systemic injustice in communities of color, will be hosting a press conference to discuss the disproportionate incarceration of youth of color; privatization of the state's juvenile prison system; and the impact of laws that encourage violence against Black & brown youth like Stand Your Ground.
Occurring in the morning before Governor Rick Scott's State of the State address, the event will feature the father of Israel Hernandez, an 18-year-old boy who was tasered to death by Miami police in 2013, & youth from universities and high schools around Florida.
The State of the State response will take place at Waller Park, located on the front steps of the main Capitol near the dolphin waterfall exhibit, at 9:30am.
"This year, we refuse to sit back and allow our youth to be pushed from schools into prisons, or shot down in the streets," said one of Dream Defenders' field organizers, Sherika Shaw. "The color of our skin will not deny our youth the opportunity to thrive in this state. If our communities come together, we can build the power to create change."
On that same morning, the Florida Senate will discuss HB89, the so-called "warning shot" bill, which would expand the Stand Your Ground defense by allowing for individuals to fire warning shots when they perceive a threat, without the obligation to retreat (if safely possible).
HB89 passed overwhelmingly out of the House less than one week after a jury in Jacksonville, Florida, chose NOT to convict Michael Dunn over the murder of unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Davis. "With multiple bills that would curb the school to prison pipeline in Florida's House & Senate this session, our legislators have a CLEAR opportunity to fix what has become a plague of youth criminalization," said Political Director Ciara Taylor. "Florida's Black and brown youth are not afraid to take part in the legislative process again this year. There is far too much at stake"