A number of celebrities are following in Stevie Wonder’s footsteps by boycotting the state of Florida in protest of their ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws after last week’s Trayvon Martin verdict. Madonna, Usher, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Rod Stewart are all said to have decided not to hold any concerts there until the law is repealed.
Wonder announced his decision to not only boycott Florida but any state with the law just two days after George Zimmerman was sensationally cleared of all charges in relation to the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The singing legend said two weeks after the verdict: “I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again.
“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.”
Beyonce and Jay-Z joined Trayvon’s mother Sybrina in New York at the weekend where mass protests over the verdict took place.
Around 23 other states in the US have Stand Your Ground laws or similar which provides varying degrees of legal protection for the use of force in self-defence situations.
A source close to Rihanna told the Huffington Post that the singer was not planning on boycotting Florida.
The Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z concert will go ahead as planned in the Sun Life stadium on August 16, despite the rapper’s support of the movement at the weekend.
The Rev Al Sharpton’s National Action Network organised Justice for Trayvon rallies and vigils outside federal buildings from noon in at least 101 cities, from New York and Los Angeles to Wichita in Kansas and Birmingham, Alabama.
On Saturday morning he told supporters in Manhattan he wanted a rollback of stand-your-ground self-defence laws.
“We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again,” he said.
“We have the strength to wipe our tears away. Last Saturday we cried. This Saturday we march.”
Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, also spoke at the New York rally, telling the crowd: ‘Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours.’
She added: “Of course we are hurting. Of course we are shocked and disappointed, but that just means we have to roll up our sleeves and continue to fight.”
Ms Fulton, her son Jahvaris, and the Rev Al Sharpton joined the rally as it marched to One Police Plaza at noon, where they were joined by Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce.
Although they did not speak at the rally, the Rev Al Sharpton told the crowd: ‘Jay- Z told me, “I’m a father. Beyonce is a mother”. We all feel the pain and apprehension – the laws must protect everybody, or it doesn’t protect anybody.”
He added: “We do not come from hate, we come from love of children,” according to the Huffington Post.