BoycottFrom The Grio — Florida’s brand as a top tourist destination glistens as enticingly as the bright sunshine that dapples its white, sandy beaches. But in the wake of a Florida jury finding George Zimmerman not guilty for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, some want to disrupt this image, through a black tourism boycott of the state.

“Tourism is huge in Florida! Vacation some place else! Boycott Florida!” exclaims a commenter on a story posted on theGrio regarding Zimmerman’s acquittal. This user is not alone.

A Facebook page called “Boycott Florida Tourism – In Honor of Trayvon Martin” has garnered almost 2,800 likes as of this writing. Other Facebook pages such as “Boycott Florida” and “Boycott Florida Economy” have been created as well, along with numerous calls for a boycott of the state that have been posted on the “Visit Florida” Facebook page.

As of Friday, more than 11,225 people have signed a Moveon.org petition calling for a tourism boycott of the Sunshine State.

On July 18, gospel duo Mary Mary tweeted an Instagram image announcing that sister members Erica and Trina Campbell will boycott Florida, taking a stand to demand that the state change its Stand Your Ground law, which grants individuals the right to use deadly force without retreating in the face of a perceived lethal threat. This law was invoked when Zimmerman was initially not charged by Sanford, Florida police after shooting Martin.

Joining Stevie Wonder, who made a similar pledge in recent days, Mary Mary’s statement reads in part,”We love our fans but we MUST do something. We understand that a No from us is not as big as a No from Stevie Wonder, but if all our voices join together we can REALLY change things!”

Passions swirl on social media in reaction to verdict

Zimmerman said he shot Martin, an unarmed teen, in self-defense in February 2012. He was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter charges on July 13.

Passionate public conversations via social media have illustrated just how strongly many feel about the verdict, particularly African-Americans.

Pew Research study released in the days following the verdict revealed that of the five million tweets sent during the first 26 hours after the verdict, 39 percent of all tweets offered straight news without opinion about the verdict, showing the manner in which the trial had captured the public’s attention.

Thirty-one percent of all tweets expressed anger at the verdict, while only seven percent supported it, a ratio of more than four to one.

“The sentiments decrying the verdict were often emotional and frequently evoked a racial subtext, according to an analysis of the Twitter response to the trial outcome from 10 p.m. July 13 to midnight on July 14,” according to Pew. “Among that group, the largest component (15% of the Twitter reaction ) was criticism of the criminal justice system, including charges that it is biased against African Americans.”

Social media has captured the view of legions of African-Americans — reflected in Mary Mary’s tweet among thousands of others — that justice was not served by the acquittal.

In response to this level of anger, some are saying that blacks and like-minded people of all races should, like Stevie Wonder and Mary Mary, boycott the state, specifically by pulling their tourism dollars from Florida.

Some have personally re-branded Florida as, “not a safe place to take your family for vacation as long as Florida law permits a citizen to shoot or kill you for merely looking suspicious, and to do it with impunity.”

TheGrio has requested comment from the Florida Tourism Board regarding revenue levels generated by black tourism to the state, and calls for a black boycott, but has not received a response.

Florida: A magnet for black tourism, conventions

Tourism is one of Florida’s largest revenue streams, rendering the state politically vulnerable to a boycott. Total tourism spending in 2012 was almost $72 billion based on preliminary numbers from the Florida Tourism Board.

Simultaneously, Florida is routinely chosen by black professional groups for networking and revelry.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) will start its annual convention in Orlando on July 31, a mere 40 miles from the city of Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed. The National Bar Association (NBA), “the nation’s oldest and largest association of African American lawyers and judges,” according to its site, will commence its 88th annual convention on July 27 in the city of Miami where Trayvon Martin once made his home.

With so many African-Americans expressing outrageunease, and grief, over the verdict, some see great irony in the fact that members of black organizations — not to mention the national chapters of these organizations and their sponsors — will be spending a significant amount of money in a state some believe is the seat of a great civil rights travesty.

Should African-American groups like NABJ, which are tasked with the mission of protecting the social interests of blacks, lead a tourism boycott of the state as a reflection of their collective outrage?

Calls for a black tourism boycott

Some African-Americans adamantly say, “Yes.”

“I cancelled my hotel in Orlando for NABJ,” a New York City-based journalist told theGrio. (She prefers to remain anonymous for professional reasons.) ”Florida does not need my tourism dollars. Not with all those crooked ‘laws,’” she continued, referring to Stand Your Ground, and the concealed carry gun permit ordinance that empowered Zimmerman (along with one in 17 Floridians) to be armed.

“NABJ should stand up and boycott as well,” she said. “They need to do the event in New York City or L.A., where the actual hiring managers and decision makers are. I don’t need passes to Disney World. Round table discussions with actual hiring managers is what members need. We don’t need celebrity golf. We need justice and for the press (which we have little control in) to keep this story alive.”

NABJ is not the only black organization facing this quandary.

The National Black Prosecutors Association (NBPA) will kick off its 30th annual conference on Sunday in Orlando, and there are many more black groups that will host gatherings in 2014.

(Continue Reading @ The Grio…)

Tags: , ,
Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • K. Michel

    “Should blacks boycott Florida?”

    I actually like that Mary Mary is boycotting because gospel is big business in the South. There might be something to this, if other gospel singers and producers follow suit.

  • Tiberius

    I’ve watched the trial and listened to the evidence. Why are we boycotting again? Is this this a racial issue??

    Zimmerman tutored Black youth in his free time, took a black girl to his prom, and helped launch a campaign for a black homeless man who was beaten up by a white youth. I think this was as far from a racial case as you could get. Even Trayvon’s parents admitted they didn’t believe this case was about race.

    Are we boycotting because of the “Stand Your Ground Law”? Zimmerman didn’t even use this law for his defense. This law acknowledges the need of the people to defend themselves or their family against the use of deadly force by a criminal. Law abiding citizens carry a firearm, because they can’t carry a policeman. The police are there to collect evidence and launch an investigation after the fact, (As we can see in this case) not to save your life.

    This law has saved the lives of men, women and children across the nation from murderers, rapists, and thugs, who would have otherwise taken the lives of the innocent. If we are going to boycott FL for this law, maybe we should look at the totality of the law and not judge it based on our misconceptions of its use.

    Trayvon’s death was tragic and I believe his death that night was the result of two individuals viewing one another as suspect. But, just because you suspect someone of something does not give permission to use deadly force against them. Deadly force in this case was unfortunately initiated by Trayvon and countered by Zimmerman.

    I’ve heard time and time again that, if Zimmerman had just listened to the police and stayed in his vehicle, then none of this would have happened. Zimmerman was already out of his vehicle and following Trayvon before the Operator asked, “Are you following him?” When the operator informed him that they didn’t need him to follow Trayvon, Zimmerman replied, “Ok” and stopped.

    Had Zimmerman not gotten out of his vehicle, it’s true, maybe the incident wouldn’t have occurred. But, then again if Trayvon hadn’t attacked Zimmerman and instead proceeded to his father’s house to notify 911 of his being followed, then none of this probably would have occurred either.

    • Anthony

      Go drink some more Koolaid.

    • Tiberius

      “KooI-Aid” preferences aside, I probably wouldn’t have excepted all of that evidence and testimony either in order to draw my own logical and unbiased conclusion.

      Do me a favor Anthony, stop letting the media tell you what you should think, free your mind, and don’t ever serve on a jury.

  • Tiberius

    I’ve watched the trial and listened to the evidence. Why are we boycotting again? Is this a racial issue??

    Zimmerman tutored Black youth in his free time, took a black girl to his prom, and helped launch a campaign for a black homeless man who was beaten up by a white youth. I think this was as far from a racial case as you could get. Even Trayvon’s parents admitted they didn’t believe this case was about race.

    Are we boycotting because of the “Stand Your Ground Law”? Zimmerman didn’t even use this law for his defense. This law acknowledges the need of the people to defend themselves or their family against the use of deadly force by a criminal. Law abiding citizens carry a firearm, because they can’t carry a policeman. The police are there to collect evidence and launch an investigation after the fact, (As we have see in this case) not to save your life.

    This law has saved the lives of men, women and children across the nation from murderers, rapists, and thugs, who would have otherwise taken the lives of the innocent. If we are going to boycott FL for this law, maybe we should look at the totality of the law and not judge it based on our misconceptions of its use.

    Trayvon’s death was tragic and I believe his death that night was the result of two individuals viewing one another as suspect. But, just because you suspect someone of something does not give permission to use deadly force against them. Deadly force in this case was unfortunately initiated by Trayvon and countered by Zimmerman.

    I’ve heard time and time again, if Zimmerman had just listened to the police and stayed in his vehicle, then none of this would have happened. Zimmerman was already out of his vehicle and following Trayvon before the Operator asked, “Are you following him?” When the operator informed him that they didn’t need him to follow Trayvon, Zimmerman replied, “Ok” and stopped.

    Had Zimmerman not gotten out of his vehicle, it’s true, maybe the death of Trayvon wouldn’t have occurred. But, then again if Trayvon hadn’t attacked Zimmerman and instead proceeded to his father’s house to notify 911 of his being followed, then none of this probably would have occurred either.

  • The National Black Prosecutors Association issued a statement today about the Travon Martin/Zimmerman case. It is on their facebook page, sorry could not post the link.