Zimmerman verdict: Ridley-Thomas urges Florida boycott, dialogue

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Saturday called for a national boycott of Florida to protest the state’s “stand your ground” law in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of African American teenager Trayvon Martin.

On a day when hundreds of protesters upset by the verdict gathered in downtown Los Angeles, Ridley-Thomas issued a statement saying, “Florida has a robust tourism industry that brought in $71.8 billion and attracted 91.4 million visitors last year.

“But until Florida is free of these dangerous and unproductive laws that allow innocent young men to be shot to death with impunity, it is in our best interest to hold the state’s leadership accountable.”

Prosecutors charged Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, with murder, alleging he stalked Martin. The jury’s acquittal came after Zimmerman’s attorney argued that he acted in self-defense when Martin attacked him.

“Stand your ground” laws, which allow someone who feels threatened to use deadly force without an obligation to retreat from the situation, have become a focus of protests in Los Angeles and across the country since the verdict.

Ridley-Thomas, who represents south and central Los Angeles County, also called for a series of community discussions on the treatment of young black men by the justice system.

The Days of Dialogue, which will begin July 27, would provide a means for “individuals to discuss their feelings in a constructive manner,” he said. “The setting compels thoughtful expression of varying viewpoints and listening to those views.”   

Training of young people and adult facilitators in advance of the meetings will be conducted at the California Endowment July 24 and 25 by the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles and Days of Dialogue, a nonprofit founded after the controversial verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the supervisor's office said. 

Earlier this week, Ridley-Thomas called for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate possible civil rights violations in the Martin killing.  


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