Stevie Wonder announced he would not perform in the State of Florida until its 'stand your ground' laws are revoked.
Stevie Wonder will boycott the state of Florida due to its 'stand your ground' legislation. The singer was prompted to comment on the law following awareness of the legislation generated by the George Zimmerman trial, according to a report in the LA Times.
Stevie Wonder at an event honouring David Foster, Hollywood Walk of Fame, L.A.
The soul sensation told a crowd in Quebec City, Canada that he would never perform in the state or any other which held firm to their "stand your ground" law. He told his audience ""I decided today that until the 'stand your ground' law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again". He went on to say "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 'stand your ground' law refers to legislation in a number of US states whereby a person may use force in self-defence, if they justifiably believe another intends unlawful harm.
The 'stand your ground' law has caused controversy due to the trial of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was accused of murder in the second degree following the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The incident occurred on February 26th 2012 when Zimmerman was employed as a guard for a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Martin was temporarily staying within the community when, during a fight with Zimmerman, he was shot.
The trial has generated publicity owing to implications that Zimmerman's actions were racially motivated. Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder charges by a court on July 13th 2013.
In this instance the 'stand your ground' law was not implemented by Zimmerman's lawyers, however, it is controversial as it relies upon ones belief that they are in danger as opposed to solid evidence of the fact. Ergo, in this instance the guard believed he was in danger, due to his racist presumptions, simply because Martin was a young Black man.
The legislation was passed in 2005, promoted by right-wing factions within the US political system. In addition to Florida, over half of American states have this law in some form, according to reports by CBC news. Florida added further clauses to the law, allowing it to be used in cases relating to the work place and vehicles.
With so many states supporting the 'stand your ground' legislation, Wonder's promise will certainly cause problems for the principled singer.
Wonder, addressing his Quebec audience, continued to say "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."
Wonder is one of a number of Black activists and celebrities who have been involved in raising awareness for the trial and subsequent discussions of the law. These include Beyoncé Knowles' sister, Solange Knowles, who held a protest in New York carrying a placard with Malcolm X quotations. Beyonce also held a minutes silence in memory of Martin during a concert in Nashville.
Solange Knowles at the protest against the Zimmerman verdict held in New York.
Wonder has been involved politically on a number of occasions. He dedicated his Academy Award to Nelson Mandela in 1985 - whilst the freedom fighter was still imprisoned - as a result his music was banned in South Africa. He also boycotted appearing in Arizona when they refused to recognise Martin Luther King Jr. day (held on the third Monday in January).
Nelson Mandela at the 46664 concert held to celebrate his 90th birthday, London, 2008.