Thousands of Florida A&M students marched to the governor's mansion last night after Rick Scott demanded the school suspend its president over a band member's hazing death. Scott agreed to meet students out front and, oy, that might have been the wrong decision.
The white guv bizarrely attempted to quell the mostly black crowd by beginning his speech with some version of: "Hey, I grew up in public housing." To which students protested, "We're not poor!" Scott apparently learned no lessons when a similar speech nearly got him booted from a black legislator's lunch in February.
The trouble started yesterday when Scott called FAMU's board chairman and asked the school to suspend James Ammons, the historically black college's president. To be fair to Scott, Ammons has had a horrible month.
First, drum major Robert Champion was killed in a hazing incident after a November 19 football game, a tragedy that has unleashed a flood of recriminations at the school. Earlier this week, three students were arrested for beating another band member so badly during a hazing ritual that her leg was shattered. Now investigators are probing larger fraud at the college.
But when word leaked about Scott's demand that Ammons be suspended, thousands of students mobilized to march on his mansion last night.
As you can see in the grainy video below, he eventually came out to meet the students.
Alas, then Scott opened his mouth and ruined the moment.
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In February, Scott made a similar gaffe at a lunch with 20 black Democratic legislators, telling them: "I grew up probably in the same situation as you guys... I started school in public housing. My dad had a sixth-grade education."
"He assumed that everyone [in the room] was poor and that can only be because you're black," state Rep. Betty Reed told the St. Pete Times.
Scott later told the crowd he plans to meet today with Ammons, who already has been reprimanded -- but not suspended -- by FAMU's board of trustees.