Stevie Wonder Boycotts Florida After Zimmerman Verdict
Stevie Wonder told a crowd on Sunday that he won’t perform in Florida until the state repeals its controversial Stand Your Ground laws, effectively boycotting any state with similar legislation on its books.
“I decided today that until the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again,” the singer said in Quebec City. “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. The truth is that — for those of you who’ve lost in the battle for justice, wherever that fits in any part of the world — we can’t bring them back. 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. That’s what I know we can do.”
Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws, which demand that authorities have proof that refute a self-defense claim before arresting or trying someone claiming self-defense, have come under heavy criticism during and after the George Zimmerman trial. Zimmerman was accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, black 17-year-old who was walking home. Police did not arrest Zimmerman for almost two months after he shot Martin dead on account of the law, though he did not end up invoking the law in his defense.
Stateline reports that at least 22 states have similar Stand Your Ground laws, with varying degrees of latitude. Some states, for example, require that someone invoking the defense first attempt to flee before using force, while others restrict the defense to situations that arise in one’s home or office. Florida’s law has neither of these restrictions.
“You can’t just talk about it,” Wonder added at his concert. “You gotta be about it.”