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Florida's Dream Defender Rule is "Capitol suppression"

2:57 PM, Sep 26, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The month-long protest at the state Capitol this summer is prompting proposed new security rules there.

It's being called the Dream Defender Rule.

The group Dream Defenders staged a 31-day, round-the-clock vigil at the Capitol following the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.

Now police want to limit after-hours access to the Capitol. They have a plan that would ban anyone in the building after 5 p.m. and prohibit any visitors from staying overnight in public areas.

Violators could be arrested for trespassing.

Members of the Dream Defenders call the idea an attempt to strip Floridians of their right to free speech and to assemble in peaceful protests.

"To us this is Capitol suppression at its finest. We don't support the rule. The rule, though it's called the Dream Defenders Rule, will affect many more people than the Dream Defenders. It'll affect any group or organization or individuals that seek to come to the Capitol, which is a public space and interact, to engage, or to discuss legislative issues with their elected representative," said Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders.

Police say the changes are needed to help secure the Capitol. They say it will help them better protect employees and visitors.

The proposal from the Florida Department of Law enforcement still needs approval from Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz.

Dave Heller

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