UF Dream Defenders Hold Rally for Trayvon Martin in Gainesville
By Yelena Orrelly
University of Florida’s Dream Defenders continued their fight for Trayvon Martin on Saturday, and this time they had the support of a state representative.
Rep. Clovis Watson Jr., of District 20, was one of the speakers at Saturday’s rally. During his speech, Watson announced his support for a repeal of the “stand your ground” law.
“I will be either sponsoring a bill, or a prime co-sponsor, of a bill to repeal the ‘stand your ground’ law. I do not believe someone should have the autonomy to take a life because they perceive danger,” Watson said.
The rally, held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, drew a crowd of more than 100 people.
Gwendolyn Zohara-Simmons, a current professor at UF and former civil rights student activist, was there. She dropped out of school in the 1960s to join the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), famous for initiating the sit-in movement and participating in freedom rides.
“We were the student arm of the civil rights movement. We initiated the sit-in movement in the ’60s, sitting in the restaurants, buses and all of that,” Zohara-Simmons said.
To her, the Dream Defenders represent the new generation of student activists, and she believes their efforts will reap results.
“I think this is the beginning of a new mass movement in the country, starting in Florida and emanating out, and I’m very happy about it,” she said.
Dream Defenders armed with clipboards and pens roamed the crowd seeking signatures for a petition addressed to Gov. Rick Scott. Their petition asks for a special session of the Florida legislature to be called in order to address the issues surrounding the Trayvon Martin case.