Matt Gaetz agrees to debate 'Dream Defender' on Stand Your Ground

There will be three issues that the two will debate: in addition to SYG, they will also discuss racial profiling and the school-to-prison pipeline.

"It's disappointing that Rep. Gaetz would dismiss the voices of engaged, knowledgeable constituents who are petitioning their lawmakers to stop the mass criminalization of black and brown youth in Florida," said Agnew. "Our demands to repeal Stand Your Ground, end racial profiling and dismantle zero-tolerance discipline policies are based not only on the deep pain felt by young people across the state; they are rooted in ample data which shows that these policies cause devastating harm to our communities. Collectively, these practices foster an unacceptable climate of profiling and criminalizing youth of color — at an annual cost of millions of dollars to Florida taxpayers. Rather than trading insults, I welcome Rep. Gaetz to a serious debate on the actual issues."

Gaetz tweeted back that he was game.

In his op-ed penned last Friday, Weatherford wrote, "I was not in the Florida Legislature when the bill became law with bipartisan support, but as the current speaker of the House, I have been asked to repeal it. "Asked" is a generous term considering the threats of boycotts, union-sponsored protesters overtaking the governor's office, and Hollywood elites disparaging our state and threatening the livelihood of hard-working Floridians."

  • Dream Defender Phillip Agnew

Last week, Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced that he would hold a hearing about Stand Your Ground (SYG). However, any excitement from that announcement seemed to wilt after Fort Walton Beach House Republican Matt Gaetz — the man who will be chairing the committee holding the SYG meeting — told reporters, "I don't intend to move one damn comma on the 'stand your ground' law."

Gaetz is chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee. He also said, "any aberrational circumstances that have resulted are due to errors at the trial court level."

Provoked by that statement, Phillip Agnew — executive director of the Dream Defenders, which has held vigil outside of Gov. Rick Scott's Capitol office for several weeks now — challenged Gaetz via Twitter to a debate on the law, and the House Republican has accepted.

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