Stevie Wonder Stands Strong Against Stand Your Ground
Singer, songwriter and all around musical genius Stevie Wonder announced that he wouldn't perform in Florida or any states with "stand your ground" laws, at a concert in Quebec on Sunday, a day following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Wonder said to his audience: “The truth is that, for those that are being 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 for equality for everybody.”
He continued to spell out how he would fight for justice: "And I know I’m not everybody, I’m just one person, I’m a human being. But for the gift that God has given me, and for whatever I mean, 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.”
"Stand your ground" laws allow people to use deadly force without any duty to retreat. Though Zimmerman's lawyers did not officially use Stand Your Ground, the law was introduced into the trial and its principles determined the verdict, according to a member of the jury. Twenty states have laws similar to "stand your ground."
Wonder isn't the only one concerned about the law. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission voted to investigate racial bias in Stand Your Ground laws. And it definitely looks like there is bias. The Tampa Bay Times found that defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more successful if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty. Only 59% of those who killed a white person got off. The Urban Institute determined that in “stand your ground” states, when white shooters kill black victims, 34% of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable. When black shooters kill white victims only 3% of the deaths are ruled justifiable.
This wasn't be the first time Wonder has boycott a state for political reasons. The seasoned activist helped start a boycott of Arizona in 1986 after Governor Evan Mecham rescinded an executive order, creating a Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the state.