Stevie Wonder Boycotting Florida Over Trayvon Martin Case and "Stand Your Ground" Law

Music icon weighs in by declaring his refusal to play anywhere the controversial self-defense law is in place

By Josh Grossberg
|  Tuesday, Jul 16, 2013  |  Updated 3:51 PM CDT
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Singer/musician Stevie Wonder

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Stevie Wonder wants to trade "Stand Your Ground" for "Higher Ground."

Between songs at a music festival in Quebec City on Sunday, the Motown legend reacted to a Florida jury's acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Feb. 26, 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by announcing he would boycott the Sunshine State and all other places in the country that have "Stand Your Ground" laws.

"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've decided today that until the 'Stand Your Ground' law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again," said Wonder. "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."

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The 63-year-old crooner expressed sadness over the verdict, which found the multiracial insurance underwriter innocent of second-degree murder charges for gunning down the hoodie-clad African-American teen despite the fact he called 911 after deeming Martin suspicious and then followed him with a gun.

"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," Wonder added. "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. That's what I know we can do."

African-American activists who have accused Zimmerman of racially profiling Trayvon are calling for Florida to repeal its "Stand Your Ground" law, which grants immunity to a person who uses justifiable force if he or she feels there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat without an obligation to retreat.

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Per the Miami Herald, a member of the all-female jury weighing Zimmerman's fate told CNN's Anderson Cooper Monday night that she and the other panelists (who so far have chosen to remain anonymous) talked about the NRA-drafted law during deliberations.

"Stand Your Ground" protections appeared on the jury instruction form despite the fact that Zimmerman waived his right to the "Stand Your Ground" immunity hearing. However it's unclear to what extent it influenced the jury's decision, if any.

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Whatever the case, Wonder feels strongly that the law should be abolished after the controversial trial and encouraged his fans to make their own stand for society's betterment.

"As I said earlier, you can't just talk about it," he said. "You gotta be about it. We can make change by coming together for the spirit of unity. Not in destruction but in the perpetuation of life itself."

So far, no word whether other artists plan to follow his lead and join him in the boycott.

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