Angered by George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, protesters around the country have begun vowing on social-media channels to boycott everything from Florida vacations to state-produced orange juice.
"Never again. Florida's economy will suffer due to the loss and injustices of Trayvon Martin and his family," Facebook user Toshia Lynn posted on the public page of Visit Florida, the state's tourism-marketing agency.
Users on Twitter have begun campaigning under hash tags such as #BoycottFlorida and #NotFlorida. Their goal: To squeeze Florida's influential tourism businesses, in hopes that they will in turn pressure state leaders into repealing the state's controversial "stand your ground" gun-rights law, which emerged as a flashpoint in Zimmerman's trial.
"Boycott Florida and maybe the tourism board and Disney will pressure FL lawmakers to repel [sic] Stand Your Ground," Twitter user @vivalalisian23m posted Tuesday.
A petition to "Boycott Florida Tourism," launched on the website of Moveon.org, had drawn more than 6,300 signatures by Tuesday evening.
"Florida is not a safe place to take your family for vacation as long as Florida law permits a citizen to shoot or kill you for merely looking suspicious, and to do it with impunity," petition organizers wrote. "Boycott Florida tourism until this dangerous law is overturned. If the murder of Trayvon Martin isn't enough to get lawmakers' attention, maybe a loss in revenue to the state would be."
At least one celebrity joined the chorus: Musician Stevie Wonder told an audience in Quebec City, Canada, that he will not perform in Florida again until the "stand your ground" law is repealed, according to Hollywood Reporter. Wonder added that he would refuse to perform in any other state with a "stand your ground" law, as well.
But while emotions are raw right now, one industry expert said the calls for boycotts are unlikely to have any meaningful impact on Orlando or Florida tourism.
"I honestly don't think so. Most people are familiar with what's going on, and they wouldn't blame an entire state for what happened in a very isolated case," said Abe Pizam, dean of the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
A spokesman for Visit Orlando, the region's publicly subsidized marketing agency, said it is too early to tell whether boycotts will have a significant effect.
Pizam cited the case of Arizona, where many activists called for travel boycotts after the state passed its controversial anti-immigration law in 2010. Pizam said Arizona's tourism industry experienced a "tiny drop" in the immediate aftermath of the law's passage but that it quickly recovered.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun