JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says the Dream Defenders protests in the state Capitol have cost taxpayers nearly $149,000 in added security.
The FDLE says its staffing has doubled since the demonstrations began 11 days ago. Friday evening, agents from the FDLE Tallahassee regional operations center were called in so the capitol police force can get some rest.
Meanwhile the Dream Defenders are not showing any signs of leaving. Until their demands are met, the activist group has vowed to occupy the governor's office, even if it means spending the night on the the floor.
"First off, that Gov. Scott calls a special legislative session to hear our desire for a Trayvon Law to be passed," said Dante Rucker, Vice President of the Jacksonville Chapter of the Dream Defenders.
Gov. Rick Scott has rejected the group's request to convene a special session but they're not taking no for an answer.
With their lengthy stay, comes a hefty bill.
According to FDLE, the demonstrations have cost taxpayers an estimated $148,942. In overtime pay alone, the price tag is upward of $50,000.
"It is certainly challenging. Capitol police are now working two shifts. They're not getting days off. They're working straight through," said Gretl Plessinger, FDLE spokesperson.
Rucker says knowing they're causing the security bill to go up won't stop them from doing what they set out to do.
"We believe the power for change is in our hands. We believe it. We sleep on that, we think about that. It's the steering wheel that's driving this vehicle," said Rucker.
Plessinger says they have not had any major clashes with the protesters. The rallies have remained peaceful.
The Dream Defenders say all they want is to be heard and hope state lawmakers will take notice.
On Friday, bus loads of supporters arrived from Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Washington D.C. According to Rucker, about 350 people have joined them and about 120 plan to sleep at the Capitol tonight.
In the coming days, the Dream Defenders will be working to collect 25,000 signatures to petition the lawmakers to convene a special session on the Stand Your Ground law. Rucker says so far they've collected 35.