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Dream Defenders end sit-in protest of Florida's stand your ground law

By Rich Phillips, CNN
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu August 15, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A student group had occupied Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office to protest stand your ground law
  • The Dream Defenders wanted Scott to call a special legislative session to repeal the law
  • Scott refused, and the group decided to end the sit-in and lobby lawmakers instead

(CNN) -- A student-led group that has been occupying the Florida governor's office to protest the state's stand your ground law and the George Zimmerman verdict decided to give up the fight Thursday and is leaving the state Capitol.

The Dream Defenders began their occupation of the office of Florida Gov. Rick Scott in mid-July, just days after Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin. They demanded that Scott call a special legislative session to overturn the state's stand your ground law.

Scott met with them a few days later to hear their demands but told them he would not call the special session.

"We feel we've done all we could, said Erika Maye, a spokeswoman for the group. "We asked for the special session. We're not getting it and now we're going to the individual districts to lobby lawmakers and to register voters. We're going to take it to the streets," she said.

The deadly encounter between Zimmerman, 29, and Martin took place on February 26, 2012, as Martin, 17, walked back to his father's fiancee's house through the rain from a Sanford convenience store. Martin was carrying Skittles and a drink.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted him and called police.

A 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman that officers were on the way and not to follow the allegedly suspicious person.

Nonetheless, Zimmerman got out of his car, later telling police he just wanted to get a definitive address to relay to authorities.

Sometime after that, Zimmerman and Martin got into a physical altercation. Zimmerman shot Martin dead. Zimmerman claimed at his trial that he shot Martin in self-defense.

Some accused Zimmerman -- who identifies himself as Hispanic -- of racially profiling the African-American teenager, a claim Zimmerman's defense flatly denied.

The case brought issues of race and the use of stand your ground laws to the forefront.

On Thursday night, the group planned to march the governor's mansion to deliver what it is calling an eviction notice to Scott.

"We're coming for his job ... the young people of Florida are coming for his job," Maye said.

HLN's Grace Wong, Graham Winch, Amanda Sloane, Jonathan Anker and Anna Lanfreschi and CNN's Mariano Castillo, Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi, Chelsea J. Carter, John Couwels, Greg Botelho, Holly Yan and Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report.

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