In the wake of mass protests following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin and an ongoing sit-in at the Florida state capital building by a group called the Dream Defenders, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced on Friday that he has ordered a hearing this fall to review the state’s “stand your ground” law at the center of the case.
Following the announcement, Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders, expressed cautious optimism about the hearing, which has been one of the group's key demands, but warned that it is only a small victory among a slew of issues the group has set out to tackle.
Asked if he was happy with the announcement, Agnew responded, "We are always happy with small victories...but we know that this is a marathon, not a sprint." He added that the Dream Defenders are not just fighting to end 'stand your ground' but also to tackle issues of racial profiling and the school-to-prison pipeline. "So we celebrated for a short time but we know there is a lot more work to do," Agnew said.
Agnew added the Defenders plan to continue their sit-in at the capital. "We are 19 days in...a few of us were joking saying we'd like to see what 30 or 40 days looks like," he said. "We’ve got a few more issues that we’ve got to discuss. We came here presenting a total package for our lawmakers.”
"It’s a critical first step,” Agnew told reporters. "We’ve been here for three weeks. We know Democracy takes time. Progress takes time.”
Weatherford assigned the task of chairing the hearings to a supporter of the stand your ground law, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.