July 16, 2013 9:56

Stevie Wonder boycotts Florida over George Zimmerman verdict

The singer says he won't perform in the state until its 'Stand Your Ground' self-defence law is abolished

Stevie Wonder has said he will boycott Florida over the not-guilty in the George Zimmerman trial that followed the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin - watch footage of his speech above.

Wonder announced his position at a gig in Quebec City on Sunday (July 14), saying that he wouldn't play in the state until its 'Stand Your Ground' Law – which allows anyone who considers themselves in danger to take whatever action they deem appropriate to defend themselves – is abolished. Some say that the law contributed to Zimmerman's acquittal.

"I decided today that until the 'Stand Your Ground' law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again," he told the crowd. "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." He added: "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. That’s what I know we can do."

George Zimmerman, then 28, killed Trayvon on the evening of February 26, 2012 at The Retreat – a gated community on the outskirts of Sanford in Florida. On the night in question, Zimmerman was driving through the neighbourhood when he caught sight of Trayvon, who had just left a local convenience store, in the street. Zimmerman called the police, claiming Trayvon looked suspicious. What happened next is still unclear – prosecutors say Zimmerman went to pursue Trayvon, Zimmerman's lawyers claim Trayvon confronted and attacked him. The altercation finished with Zimmerman firing a shot from his 9mm pistol which hit the teenager in the chest.

Zimmerman had been charged with second degree murder, though jurors were also given the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of manslaughter. They chose neither. The verdict implies that Zimmerman acted in self-defence, which is justified under Florida's "stand your ground" law. Civil rights activists argue that Trayvon – who had no criminal record – was attacked because he was black.

Over the weekend (July 13), Beyoncé dedicated a moment's silence to teenager Trayvon Martin at a gig in Nashville. As protests took place across America demanding justice for the teenager's family and questioning the fairness of the US justice system, musicians at London's Wireless festival also spoke out about the case. During Jay-Z's co-headline slot last night (July 14), the rapper told the crowd: "Rest in peace, Trayvon Martin." Performing their first gig for 20 years, A Tribe Called Quest also issued a call to fans. "I don't want to be a downer but yesterday in America, we saw a miscarriage of justice," said Q-Tip. "It's not the first time this has happened. Pray for us... we need help."

Scroll down to see a selection of tweets from Tom Morello, Chuck D, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Diddy and more reacting to the ruling.



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