Florida Gov. Rick Scott returned to the state Capitol late Thursday and met with a group of protesters upset about the George Zimmerman verdict who'd been camping out at his office while demanding changes to the state's self-defense laws.
During a nearly-hour long meeting, Scott listened to seven protesters air their concerns about the verdict and descriptions of racial profiling. They were part of a group into its third day of a sit-in at Scott's office.
But in the end the Republican governor told the group that he would not call a special session to ask legislators to repeal the state's "stand your ground" law, which has become linked to Zimmerman's fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder last weekend after claiming he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense.
Scott, who said he had spoken earlier in the evening with Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, instead said he would call for a day of prayer on Sunday for "unity."
He also urged the protesters to talk to local legislators if they wanted to change state law.
"Each of you have a representative, each of you has a senator, I'd sit down with each one," Scott said. "That's how the process works."
It is considered unlikely that the GOP-controlled legislature would revisit the law.
The governor also asked them to give him ideas on how to deal with racial profiling.
Near the end of the meeting, Scott told them: "I appreciate you and I look forward to seeing you again."
After the meeting, protesters reiterated that Scott should show "leadership" and call legislators into special session. They said they would remain in the Capitol until he agreed to their demands.
Scott had been out of town and away from the Capitol most of this week.
Protesters upset that Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin marched on the Capitol on Tuesday and began occupying Scott's office.
More than two-dozen protesters remained in the Capitol after hours late Thursday and a group was spending the night again on Thursday. They have brought in pillows and mats to sleep in the hallway while supporters have brought them food.
The meeting between Scott and the protesters was polite. He spent time asking the protesters whether they were in college and what part of the state they were from.
But they also laid out their demands — which they say includes dealing with problems that they say affect young people in the state, especially those who are black or Latino.
Melanie Andrade, who said her family came from the Cape Verde Islands to work at Disney World, told the governor how she lived in a gated community in Central Florida but that she and her brother would constantly be asked for ID by police even when they were standing in their own driveway.
Andrade and other protesters said some of the problems they have witnessed could be addressed by passing a comprehensive law named after Trayvon Martin that would include repealing the "stand your ground" law that allows a person to use deadly force if they believe their life is in danger.
"We didn't come here just to yell, we came to present a plan," said Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders, one of the groups organizing protests.