Stevie Wonder has announced that he is boycotting the state of Florida as a result of the acquittal Saturday of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The 63-year-old music legend was performing in Quebec City on Sunday, when he told the crowd he would not perform in Florida until the state repeals its controversial Stand Your Ground laws, effectively boycotting any state that enforces similar legislation.
"I decided today that until the 'Stand Your Ground' law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again," the singer proclaimed. "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."
The shooting death of the black teen in February 2012 has spawned an intense national debate about race, guns and self-defense. The incident has especially put 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, under heavy scrutiny.
Zimmerman was accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old who was walking home from a convenience store. Police did not arrest Zimmerman for almost two months after he shot Martin dead on account of the law, though Zimmerman did not end up using the law in his defense.
While Stateline reports that at least 22 states enforce similar Stand Your Ground laws, each territory holds the rule 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 on Sunday. "You gotta be about it."
Stevie Wonder Reacts to Zimmerman Trial Verdict
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.