California lawmaker, Legislative Black Caucus to urge Florida boycott over 'stand your ground' law

07/18/2013 12:00 AM

07/21/2013 9:04 AM

In the wake of a Florida jury acquitting George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, California Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, will call for a boycott on traveling to the Sunshine State or doing business there.

The case garnered national attention and ignited a debate about Florida's gun laws before a jury on Saturday found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter, concluding that the neighborhood watch volunteer acted in self-defense when he shot Martin.

The verdict could signal an "open season on vigilante-type justice," Holden said Wednesday in a telephone interview.

So he is preparing a joint resolution, with the backing of the California Legislative Black Caucus, that advocates a boycott of Florida until the state repeals the "stand your ground" law that allows Florida residents to ward off assailants with deadly force.

"What might be an appropriate way for us to usher in change would be for us to have a boycott that focuses on the seriousness and importance of looking at this law and making some changes," Holden said.

"We want to encourage those who are traveling and planning vacations and conventions and potential ways of spending dollars in the state to hold back until those changes have been made," he added.

Members are still working on the language, Holden said, and he has not yet gauged where the rest of the Democratic caucus stands. He said he was motivated to call for a boycott in part by concern for his four college-age sons.

"If we lived in Florida, (the verdict) would send a chilling message about their safety and security," he said.

Members of the state's Legislative Black Caucus are not alone in calling for a Florida boycott. Petitions on the website seeking a boycott have gathered thousands of signatures, and musician Stevie Wonder said during a concert Sunday that he would refuse to perform in Florida until the state repealed the "stand your ground" law. Zimmerman's defense did not rely on "stand your ground."

The backlash recalls boycotts of Arizona after the state passed an immigration enforcement law that critics called discriminatory.

The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated part of the Arizona law in a 2012 decision but preserved a highly contentious portion allowing police officers to check the immigration status of people they suspect of being in the country illegally.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543. Follow him on Twitter @CapitolAlert.

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