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Economic Sanctions Against Florida: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
Published:
7/24/2013 2:23:21 PM


By Dr. Ron Daniels




In a recent article I called for economic sanctions against Florida to compel business and political leaders in that state to change the "Stand Your Ground Law" which provided the basis for the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. There are times when there is a convergence of ideas, a meeting of minds, such that a particular strategy has the potential to galvanize a movement to achieve a major victory. It appears that such a convergence of ideas has occurred around at least one strategy to translate the anger and frustration over the Zimmerman verdict into justice in the Trayvon Martin tragedy - Economic Sanctions/Boycott Florida. The idea is not a Ron Daniels idea or Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) call but one that is on the minds of Black people all across the country.

Dr. Patricia Newton, President Emeritus, National Association of Black Psychiatrists was so outraged by the Zimmerman verdict that she cancelled a $1 million dollar contract she was about to sign for a conference in Florida. When I asked an elderly Black professional couple I met at Penn Station in Baltimore [who were returning from a conference in Jacksonville, Florida] whether they would be going back to Florida next year... Before I could get the words out of my mouth, the wife defiantly proclaimed that they discussed the murder of Trayvon Martin at the conference and had already resolved that they would not hold another convention in that state until there is justice in this case! Then music legend Stevie Wonder issued a statement at a concert in Canada proclaiming "until the Stand Your Ground Law is abolished, I will never perform there again." Since his pronouncement Eddie LaVert, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick and Mary Mary are among the artists who have publicly come out saying they will not perform in Florida until this abhorrent law has changed. While celebrities like Stevie Wonder provide credibility for the Boycott, it will be the actions of the multitude of conscious/committed convention goers, vacationers and consumers that will make the campaign effective. Economic sanctions against Florida is an idea whose time has come.

Just as Katrina ripped the scab off and exposed the raw naked structural/institutional racism in distressed Black neighborhoods in America like those in New Orleans, the murder of Trayvon Martin has ripped the scab off the persistent phenomenon of the criminalization of young Black men, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk and the structural/institutional racism in America's criminal justice system. The problem is that despite episodic protests and periodic mobilizations, there has not been a persistent sense of urgency in Black America about these issues. The murder of Trayvon Martin may be a decisive turning point.

One week after the Zimmerman verdict, rallies and prayer vigils were held across the country to demand that the Justice Department bring criminal charges against George Zimmerman for violating Trayvon Martin's civil rights. While we agree that this is a righteous strategy, there is a high probability that the Justice Department will not find sufficient racial animus in the proceedings to justify bringing charges. However, even if the Justice Department does find sufficient cause to bring charges, I contend that the economic sanctions/boycott Florida campaign is necessary.

At the end of the day, not only must we seek a conviction of Zimmerman, we must also indict and fight to change the law that is so flawed that it would permit an armed adult to pursue an unarmed teenager deemed "suspicious" and permit a grown man to kill a kid who fearfully sought to stand his ground against a menacing stranger. Fighting to change this flawed law is about justice for Trayvon Martin, but it is also about all of the Trayvons in the state of Florida and across the nation who are victims of criminalization and racial profiling. It is about Black people consciously and collectively standing our ground against the attacks on the gains of the civil rights/human rights/Black power movements, the abandonment and disinvestment in distressed Black communities and the daily indignities we have quietly suffered for far too long.

In his last speech the night before he was assassinated in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King urged Black people to use boycotts to achieve justice. He said, "now we must kind of redistribute the pain." As IBW said in its Press Release on this issue, "Blacks and all people of conscience and good will should inflict some non-violent pain on the state of Florida and keep inflicting it until business leaders and the politicians scream for help and plead for the economic sanctions to be lifted." But, to achieve our goal we need a targeted (not scattered/shotgun) approach to succeed.

The major component of the campaign should be to shut off tourism to Florida. This means Black organizations should not schedule conferences/conventions in that state until the law is changed. Groups that have already scheduled conferences six months to a year out should seek to cancel the agreements and notify the venues that Black people no longer feel safe to travel to Florida, particularly with their sons. An option is to hold conferences/conventions at a Black College/University or Black owned retreat centers. In the event that your conference is already scheduled in the next few months, resolve to spend as little money/cash in the state as possible. This campaign requires that kind of discipline.

Do not schedule a vacation in Florida until victory is won. Do not travel to an amusement park in the "tragic kingdom" or golf tournament until victory is won. At the NAACP Convention, Martin Luther King III urged the delegates not to buy Florida orange juice. In conversations with Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and George Fraser, President/CEO, FraserNet, they advised that refusing to buy Florida orange juice is an excellent way to "democratize" the economic sanctions/Boycott Florida campaign by creating an avenue for ordinary people everywhere to participate in the effort whether they had planned to travel to Florida or not. So, here's a set of marching orders:
No Conferences/Conventions
No Vacations
No Amusement Parks or Golf Tournaments
No Florida Orange Juice

We also hope the major civil rights leaders will embrace this righteous campaign and mobilize their constituents to actively support it. The people are ready and the train is already leaving the station. IBW has posted a petition on its website www.ibw21.org where organizations, leaders and individuals can Sign a Pledge to Boycott Florida. Finally, while this campaign is spearheaded by Black people, we obviously appeal to and welcome the support of our friends and allies of all races and ethnicities who believe that "an injury to one is an injury to all," that "an injustice anywhere to anyone is an injustice to everyone everywhere." Economic sanctions against Florida is an idea whose time has come!


Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org and www.northstarnews.com

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Submitted By: gentsu Submitted: 7/24/2013
Stand your ground had nothing to do with Zimmerman's acquittal. SYG says you don't have to run when confronted with a life-threatening situation (running puts your back to your attacker, a distinct disadvantage in an attack). Zimmerman was on his back with Martin on top of him; he had no escape option, and thus SYG did not apply.


Submitted By: gentsu Submitted: 7/24/2013
also: you said "fearfully sought to stand his ground against a menacing stranger." There was no evidence that Martin "stood his ground', there was only evidence that he laid in wait for Zimmerman, confronted him by surprise, broke his nose, and proceeded to beat him. I get that you are mad. But Zimmerman's poor judgment in leaving his truck did not give M the right to assault him. Are you really suggesting that if I believe someone is following me, for any reason, I have the right to assault and batter them when they are not in any way threatening me? (Keep in mind the legal definition of a "threat").


Submitted By: John Rowe Submitted: 7/24/2013
Zimmerman is a cold blooded murder, this case has nothing to do with race. He made up a story of self defense and there was no evidence he was ever attack. Florida is not a safe place to visit, any person who's friend with the police can walk up to you and shot you with a gun. If Zimmerman kill a homeless person, no one would even know it happen.


Submitted By: Guest Submitted: 7/24/2013
The fact of the matter is that Trayvon Martin actually has CIVIL RIGHTS. Zimmerman knew that Trayvon is BLACK. Blacks are a protected class. Blacks who are not in a commission of a crime have the right to ENJOY life and liberty, and pursue happiness without being intimidated, stalked, and provoked into fear. That's the BASIC RIGHT in the constitution. Zimmerman initiated and interfered by intimidation and infringed on the rights of Trayvon to enjoy life and liberty. This is why Trayvon asked "Why are you following me for?" The bottom line is NO ONE can intimidate by following a Black person around EVER if that Black person is not in the commission of a crime. Because following that Black person is a form of intimidation and it infringes on the BASIC right of that person to ENJOY life and liberty.


Submitted By: Guest Submitted: 7/24/2013
STAND YOUR GROUND WAS SNEAKED IN AS PART OF THE JURY INSTRUCTIONS. SEE THE JURY INSTRUCTIONS BELOW: “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to STAND HIS GROUND and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”


 
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