Call to boycott Florida getting louder

Movement comes in wake of Zimmerman trial, 'stand your ground' outcry

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A call to boycott Florida in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict and "stand your ground" law outcry is getting louder.

In just one day, an online petition against Florida tourism has gained 1,000 more signatures, reaching a total of about 10,300 signatures.

Local hotel operators say the impact has not yet been felt. At a meeting of the North Florida Hotel and Lodging Association on Thursday at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel, members said they had not even heard of the boycott, so they couldn't comment.

State leaders are hearing about it in Tallahassee. State Sen. John Thrasher says it could be very damaging.

"I hope that is not the strategy that folks that want to turn the Trayvon Martin stand your ground whatever case around," Thrasher said. "There is a process for that. To go out and attack innocent people in an economic boycott is frankly wrong. And we ought not be doing that."

The logos about no disney and no orange juice are no laughing matter to state leaders. There is a big concern in central Florida about an orange juice boycott mentioned by the NAACP, which was meeting in Orlando.

"Our economy in the state of Florida is pretty fragile," Thrasher said. "We are coming back, but it's still pretty fragile. And to put something like this on people right now is a pretty bad strategy, I think, for getting this kind of discussion started.

Visitors to the Sunshine State continue to say the boycott is a personal choice.

"To not participate or come to the state, it has nothing necessarily to do with the whole state," said Michelle Alexander, of Decatur, Ga. "It's the law itself that needs to be addressed."

Visit Jacksonville again on Thursday referred Channel 4 to the state for comment, and for the second day in a row, the state has yet to respond.

"I realize we have a problem," Rep. Corrine Brown said in a phone interview. "I would like to see some dialogue and people know that we are working to solve the problem so they would not have to go to that drastic step. I don't want to see them boycott my state, but I feel like something needs to happen."

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