A crowd of over 500 swelled in Washington, DC Saturday in protest over last weekend’s George Zimmerman acquittal in Trayvon Martin case, with some crying for a boycott against Florida.
Comedian and long-time civil rights activist Dick Gregory addressed the crowd and told them to hit Florida where it hurts – in the wallet – by steering clear of Disney World and orange juice aisle.
The rally was one of many nationwide over the weekend, where demands for “Justice for Trayvon” came in the form of calls for an end to Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense laws and for the prosecution of George Zimmerman on charges he violated Trayvon Martin’s civil rights when he shot and killed the 17-year-old last year.
News of the boycott call came as Senator John McCain (R-AZ) joined President Barack Obama in calling for a review of Stand Your Ground laws across the nation.
“I can also see that Stand Your Ground laws may be something that needs to be reviewed by the Florida legislature or any other legislature that has passed such legislation,” John McCain told CNN, adding that his home state of Arizona should consider similar action.
John McCain stopped short of calling for tougher gun controls though, saying: “I don’t frankly see the connection.”
While praising protestors who staged a sit-in as an attempt to cajole Florida Governor Rick Scott into meeting with them, Dick Gregory told the crowd outside the federal courthouse in Washington that musician Stevie Wonder had the right idea when he pledged to no longer perform in Florida.
“How many of y’all have been to Disneyland to see a rat,” Dick Gregory asked with trademark humor.
“But haven’t walked down the street to see King’s tomb? Had he not died, you wouldn’t be welcome in Orlando. So we not asking you to do anything that costs you. We just say save your money. Don’t spend it.”
As some members of the crowd chanted “boycott Florida”, Dick Gregory continued with his characteristic humor, according to Breitbart.com.
“Some of y’all ain’t been to Florida in your life and ain’t going,” said Dick Gregory.
“And all you got to do is get Florida to come to you. Now what do I mean by that? They got oranges that they can’t afford to have you not buy because they will rot.”
“I said to my grandmother, <<We not going to boycott Florida orange juice because Florida orange juice is sold under different names. We going to boycott orange juice>>,” he said.
“And when them orange growers start running in to take that governor and he knows he can’t stand his ground with them.”
“Justice for Trayvon” rallies continued elsewhere, as racial tensions remain high – and calls for change remain loud – across the U.S. in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal.
“We have the strength to wipe our tears away. Last Saturday we cried. This Saturday we march,” came the words of Reverend Al Sharpton as he addressed the crowds of a New York City protest Saturday.
Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, also spoke at the New York rally, telling the crowd: “Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours.”
Sybrina Fulton, her son Jahvaris, and Al Sharpton joined the rally as it marched to One Police Plaza at noon, where they were joined by Jay Z and his wife Beyonce, according to the New York Post.
Beyonce had shown her support for the case last week, asking for a moment of silence at a concert after the not guilty verdict was recorded.
While Trayvon Martin’s mother was in New York, the dead teenager’s father took part in a Miami rally on Saturday morning, according to NBC News.
Tracy Martin told supporters outside Miami’s federal courthouse: “I vowed to Trayvon, when he was lying in his casket, that I would use every ounce of energy in my body to seek justice for him.”
Reverend Al Sharpton and other supporters want the Justice Department to pursue federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.
He told the rally on Saturday: “They will not say that was the young man killed in Sanford. They will say that was the young man who helped change the laws in the United States of America.”
Former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who attended the New York rally, said: “Regardless of how you view the legality of the verdict in isolation, justice here was denied. An innocent young man was shot and killed and that is a tragedy.”
Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that the department would investigate whether the Hispanic neighborhood watch man could be charged under those federal civil rights laws, which would require evidence that he harbored racial animosity against Trayvon Martin.
Most legal experts said it would be a difficult charge to bring.