Stevie Wonder Boycott: Disgusted By George Zimmerman Verdict, Soul Singer Vows Not To Perform In 'Stand Your Ground' States [VIDEO]
Stevie Wonder will boycott the state of Florida, using his music as a tool for social change by refusing to perform in Florida or any state with Stand Your Ground laws on the books. The famed singer-songwriter made the announcement after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Stevie Wonder will boycott the verdict by thumbing his nose at the Sunshine State.
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While he performed in Quebec City, Canada on Sunday, the 63-year-old soul singer said he wouldn't step foot in Florida for a performance so long as the Stand Your Ground law, a seminal piece of the Trayvon Martin murder case that partly led to Zimmerman's innocence, exists.
"Until the stand-your-ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again," he said to the crowd. His statement is met with cheers. "Wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world."
Florida's Stand Your Ground law allows someone to use deadly force in self-defense when there is reason to believe the person is in danger, with no obligation to retreat first. The law grants immunity from criminal charges and civil suits to someone who uses deadly force to protect themselves in public. Once self-defense is invoked, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to disprove the claim.
An 1895 Supreme Court case, Beard v. United States, established precedence for today's Stand Your Ground laws. It provides a loophole from prosecution for people who kill someone out of self-defense or protection. But the 1895 ruling applied only in situations where intruders encroached onto personal property, like a person's home, and did not extend to public spheres.
"A man assailed on his own grounds, without provocation, by a person armed with a deadly weapon and apparently seeking his life is not obliged to retreat, but may stand his ground and defend himself with such means as are within his control," the ruling reads (emphasis added by the author of this article).
Outside the home, people generally still have a "duty to retreat" from an attacker, if possible, to avoid confrontation. In other words, if you can get away and you shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. In Florida, there is no duty to retreat. You can "stand your ground" outside your home, too.
Since Florida, 23 other states have adopted Stand Your Ground laws (although a few of them never had a retreat law to begin with). They are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.
On Saturday, a jury acquitted 29-year-old George Zimmerman, who was accused of gunning down unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, of all charges. Zimmerman faced a second-degree murder charge and the lesser charge of manslaughter, but walked away from both. He was even given his gun back, the same gun he used to shoot 17-year-old Martin back in Feb. 2012.
Here's footage, uploaded to YouTube, from the concert in Canada where Stevie Wonder announced he will boycott the state of Florida following the George Zimmerman trial verdict:
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