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Thursday, Aug 21, 2014
National Politics

Trayvon Martin protester escorted from Scott event


Published:

DELRAY BEACH - During a charity event today, a member of Gov. Rick Scott's security team forcefully stood and blocked a silent protester who said she was there to demand justice for Trayvon Martin's death.

Ana Lee Case quietly stood several feet from a podium where the governor was speaking in the back of an Office Depot store. She held a sign that read "Call the Session."

It referred to the demand by her and other protesters that the Republican governor call a special session to have legislators change the state's "stand your ground" law and address other issues such as racial profiling after George Zimmerman's acquittal on July 13 in Martin's shooting death.

A security guard stood in front of Case and forced her to back up, then stood nose to nose with her asking questions. Case, 25, stood quietly for the rest of the nearly hour-long event, but was flanked by two police officers and was told she would be escorted from the building if she took one step forward. Case told officials she was not armed.

After the event, while Scott was talking to reporters, Case yelled "Justice for Trayvon!" and was escorted from the building.

"I want to make sure that Gov. Scott doesn't want to see all these beautiful children today racially profiled," she told a reporter, criticizing the governor for not engaging more with protesters at the Capitol.

About a dozen young children colored on the floor in front of the podium. A few dozen people, mostly Office Depot staff, media and charity representatives milled somewhat informally during the event, which was held to donate school supplies to children.

Scott's office deferred comment to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it is standard procedure to establish a secure perimeter around the governor and that agents typically get very close to people so they don't have to raise their voices.

Case is part of the group that has been occupying the Capitol for nearly two weeks, demanding the special session. She was forced to stand behind some TV photographers and the first row of the audience. When asked by a reporter why Case was not allowed to move, a police officer said they wanted her in a certain spot for safety reasons.

Scott, who did meet once with protest leaders, has steadfastly refused to call a session. Since then, the protest has continued and attracted national media attention and drawn the support of celebrities such as Harry Belafonte. During most of that time Scott has been traveling across the state.

"We want to let him know that he can't run away from justice," Case said.

Scott's staff had a run-in with protesters in the past. Several were ousted from a budget-signing ceremony in The Villages in 2011.

Scott chose the central Florida retirement community that's a GOP and tea party stronghold to sign the budget rather than do it in Tallahassee, home to thousands of public employees.

Sumter County sheriff's deputies escorted about two dozen protesters, some holding signs saying "Pink Slip Rick," from the town square where Scott was speaking to about 200 supporters. One GOP staffer called it a private event.

A few days later, Scott's office said the governor accepted responsibility for the incident, but that Scott did not make the decision to force out protesters.

Scott's spokesman at the time, Brian Burgess, said the governor had "received assurances from the employee, the employee's supervisor, and his entire staff, that this confusion and the results it created will not happen again."

Florida House Democratic Leader Rep. Perry Thurston also hand delivered a letter today to the Office of Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner requesting a special session on the issue, saying there is confusion among law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts and the application of the law.

"As presently crafted, the statutes have not simply helped law-abiding citizens protect themselves from attack, but rather they have been used as cover for perpetrators of crimes," Thurston said in the letter.

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