Battle cry: Boycott Florida

KUSH AZRAEL | 7/23/2013, 6:14 p.m.
There have been numerous calls from Black leaders and organizations to boycott the State of Florida. Florida is an enticing ...

George Zimmerman is a free man, even after the brutal slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. Now many of Martins supporters want Florida to pay for having the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law that allowed the state to deny justice for Trayvon Martin.

There have been numerous calls from Black leaders and organizations to boycott the State of Florida. Florida is an enticing target, considering that tourism alone brought in $71.8 billion last year. Protesters hope the impending damage that a large-scale boycott could have on Florida’s economy will force politicians to get rid of the “stand your ground” law.

Despite the charged emotions and a high profile boycott of Florida and other “Stand Your Ground” states by singer, Stevie Wonder, analysts say boycott backers have huge hurdles to clear to make any economic sanctions effective. One Orlando area expert said there may be only a little economic dent unless groups start to cancel long-planned conferences.

While performing in Canada, Stevie Wonder announced, one day after the verdict, that he will not perform in Florida until the law is abolished.

“As a matter of fact, wherever I find the law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world,” said Wonder. “We can make change by coming together for the spirit of unity.”

The message is clear: Don’t travel to Florida, and don’t buy Florida oranges and other Sunshine State products.

Martin Luther King III has also chimed in, and at a NAACP convention in Orlando during the week of the trial, he proposed that we should boycott Florida orange juice. Moveon.org has a petition with tens of thousands of signatures to boycott Florida tourism until the “Flawed and dangerous” self-defense law is repealed.

In California, some Democratic state lawmakers are also floating the idea of banning state business with Florida.

But probably the largest and loudest call to boycott Florida is coming from the Institute of the Black World (IBW), a prominent human rights and racial justice organization. They are calling for the immediate formation of a “National Coalition of Conscience” to declare an economic boycott of Florida as a means of seeking justice for slain Trayvon Martin.

Responding to the farce of the George Zimmerman verdict, Dr. Ron Daniels, President of IBW said that his group “is strongly urging civil rights and human rights organizations, national faith groups, fraternities, sororities, Black professional organizations, organized labor, community-based organizations and people of conscience everywhere to join in a massive, sustained campaign to boycott tourism in Florida until that state’s ‘Stand Your Ground Law’ is changed.”

Daniels noted that Black Enterprise is scheduled to host the annual Pepsi Golf and Tennis Challenge in Palm Beach Gardens over Labor Day weekend. In addition, Black people spend billions of dollars at the nationally famous Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, every year.

He also noted that Dr. Martin Luther King’s instructions to Black people, in a rarely referenced part of the speech he delivered the night before he was assassinated, should serve as a guide for the Justice for Trayvon Martin Economic Sanctions Campaign. In discussing the injustices suffered by the sanitation workers in Memphis, Dr. King said, “Now we must kind of redistribute the pain.”