The approximately 500 “Justice For Trayvon” protesters in Washington, D.C., on Saturday heard calls from progressive speakers for specific boycott actions they want to use force Florida and other states to eliminate “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Even though such self-defense laws were not used in George Zimmerman’s defense, comedian and veteran progressive activist Dick Gregory argued at the rally outside the federal courthouse in Washington on Constitution Avenue that people should fight against them. Gregory also praised protesters who staged a sit-in until they could meet with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who has agreed to meet with the protesters but continues standing strong on Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Gregory called for protesters to join musician Stevie Wonder in boycotting Florida.
We say thanks to brother Stevie Wonder. For all of his gigs he pays $100,000 tax. So you see what he’s giving up. We sit around arguing about so and so is not doing this, reverend is not doing this, I don’t hear you talking about Stevie. He didn’t have to huddle with nobody. He didn’t have to go to New York and huddle with white agents and say “Can I do this?” So what can we do to help Stevie? We don’t have to ask the First National Bank. We don’t have to ask Congress. We can make our decision when we leave here today because that governor of Florida said last night, “Hear me, hear me!” He said “I’ll meet with them but nothing is going to change.” And he met with them and he said if the deal was passed again, he would sign it. Well, we got a message for you.
Some members of the crowd jumped in and started shouting, “Boycott Florida! Boycott Florida!”
Gregory made the argument that supporters of Trayvon Martin should take action by not acting. “Whoa. Hang on,” he said. “Let me say something. Let me say something. See that’s what you mean. Some of y’all ain’t been to Florida in your life and ain’t going. And all you got to do is get Florida to come to you. Now what do I mean by that? They got oranges that they can’t afford to have you not buy because they will rot.”
“You leave here now and you get on the phone and you call people and tell them to call people,” he continued. “I said to my grandmother, ‘We not going to boycott Florida orange juice because Florida orange juice is sold under different names. We going to boycott orange juice.’ And when them orange growers start running in to take that governor and he knows he can’t stand his ground with them. This is who we are. Starting thinking about Christmas. You know it’s hard to get us to do something.”
Gregory called for people to boycott Disney as well, since it is based in Orlando, Fla. “How many of y’all have been to Disneyland to see a rat?” Gregory said, referencing Mickey Mouse, to laughter from the several hundred in attendance. “But haven’t walked down the street to see King’s tomb? Had he not died, you wouldn’t be welcome in Orlando. So we not asking you to do anything that costs you. We just say save your money. Don’t spend it. And when they understand who you are, then things will stop happening.” Disneyland is located in Anaheim, CA. Disneyworld is located in Orlando, FL.
Gregory was not the only speaker at the rally; E. Faye Williams, the chair of the National Congress of Black Women, opened her remarks to the crowd by saying, “We stand with our queen sister Sybrina Fulton.”
Williams then began advocating the crowd to take action through various tactics against those who support Stand Your Ground laws. “So we say to you my brothers and sisters, don’t feel like somebody else has to do it,” she said. “Everybody can do something.”
“If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you can register to vote,” she said. “If you haven’t helped somebody else register to vote, you can help them register to vote. If you haven’t given a dime to the Trayvon Martin foundation so we can carry on this work, give a dime, give your time or give something.”
Williams said Stand Your Ground laws “are disproportionately unfair to young black men.”
“We have to be there [where states are implementing these laws],” she said. “We have to keep on pulling our money back. I did it. When I heard about Stand Your Ground and how the American Legislative Exchange Council is going around the country getting states to enact Stand Your Ground laws. I pulled my money out of Bank of America. I pulled my money out of State Farm insurance.”