It started with Grammy Award-winner Stevie Wonder, but celebrities of different genres have begun to boycott performances in Florida in protest of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.
The announcements come just days after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the February 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fl.
“I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again,” Wonder said in various video recordings posted to YouTube from a July 14 night show in Quebec City, Canada. “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.”
Stevland Morris, better known by his stage name of Stevie Wonder, made the declaration without his classic shades, and with his eyes showing. He added that though some may have already lost their battle for justice, there is more that can be done.
“What we can do is we can let our voices be heard. And we can vote in our various countries throughout the world for change and equality for everybody,” he said. “That’s what I know we can do.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, Florida is among 22 states in which there is “no duty to retreat from an attacker in any place in which one is lawfully present,” the organization said in a release.
Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.
“At least nine of those states include language stating one may ‘stand his or her ground,” according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
Though Zimmerman, 29, did not actually use that specific defense in the case, attorneys for the neighborhood watchman claimed that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense and feared for his life during an altercation with Martin, which began after Zimmerman followed Martin for almost a mile on Feb. 26, 2012.
O’Jays lead singer Eddie Levert was among many entertainers nationwide who said he would protest the jury’s decision.
“I, Eddie Levert will not play Florida until they change their gun laws,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer wrote on his personal Twitter account. “I’m going to join Mr. Stevie Wonder in his boycott of Florida.”
By July 18, sisters Erica and Tina Campbell of the dynamic gospel duo Mary, Mary, also announced via Twitter, that they too would boycott the state.
“We will stand with Stevie Wonder and boycott Florida until the Stand Your Ground law is changed,” said the sisters. “We love our fans but we must do something.”
“We understand a ‘no’ from us isn’t as big as a ‘no’ from Stevie Wonder but if all our voices join together we can really change things,” they wrote.