Trayvon Martin backers call for boycotts of all things Florida

Want ‘flawed’ self-defense law repealed

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George Zimmerman went free, but some supporters of slain teenager Trayvon Martin want Florida to pay.

Persistent calls for a boycott of the state have come in the wake of Saturday’s not guilty verdict in the racially charged case. Florida is a particularly tempting target given that the state’s tourism industry brought in $71.8 billion and attracted 91.4 million visitors last year. Protesters hope the threat of a large-scale boycott and consequent economic pressure will convince politicians to work toward abolishing the state’s “stand your ground” law.

Despite the passions — and a high-profile boycott of Florida and other “stand your ground states” by singer Stevie Wonder — analysts say boycott-backers have a high bar to clear to make any economic targeting of the Sunshine State effective.

Protesting the verdict with other black clergymen in front of the Justice Department in Washington earlier this week, the Rev. Anthony Evans said clergy leaders have considered calling for a five-year boycott “against the state of Florida” if the administration fails to file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman.

“All African-Americans in the country will stay away from there. We will not spend a dime with a company in the state of Florida. We’re going to punish them … we’re not going to spend our money where we’re not respected at,” said Mr. Evans, the president of the National Black Church Initiative. “What we got in Florida was injustice, not justice.”

A MoveOn.org petition to boycott Florida tourism until the “flawed and dangerous” self-defense law is repealed had more than 10,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon. Some Democratic state lawmakers in California also have floated the idea of banning any state business with Florida until the “stand your ground” law is repealed.

Mr. Wonder announced Sunday while performing in Canada that he would not perform in Florida until the law is abolished.

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

But there is considerable skepticism, given the historical record, that an economic boycott of Florida could be sustained.

Hans A. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, pointed to the immigration legislation passed in Arizona in April 2010 that sparked similar boycotts.

“It was completely ineffective. And immigration is a much more controversial issue than ‘stand your ground’ laws, because most polling shows most Americans think they should be able to defend themselves, which is what this really boils down to,” Mr. Spakovsky said.

He also referenced the more than 20 states with similar self-defense laws.

“What are you going to do, boycott all the rest of these states too? Boycott half the country?,” he said. “And [stand your ground] wasn’t even an issue in the prosecution. So why in the world are they organizing a boycott?”

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