African-American activists call for boycott of Koch products in wake of Zimmerman verdict

Trayvon Martin PanelA group of African-American activists, community leaders and college professors are calling for the boycott of Koch Industries as a way to honor slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin, pushing for continued dialogue on race relations nationwide.

While speaking at an event titled “From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin: A Town Hall Meeting on Black Bodies and American Racism” at Washington, D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theater, a panel of prominent African-Americans gathered to examine ways to combat the racism they say led to George Zimmerman’s acquittal last month. When asked about the failed boycotts of places like Disney World in Orlando, Fla., one panelist revealed her efforts to combat the proponents of “Stand Your Ground” laws.

“We’re asking people not to buy from that company that created those ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws,” said the Rev. Carolyn Boyd, an adjunct pastor at Plymouth Congregation United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C. ”Y’all know that company with those people, the Kochs. Paper towels and all those products that we buy — Walmart — all the time, that make those people rich and make us poor.”

The pastor directed the audience to stop purchasing things like Angel Soft toilet paper, Brawny paper towels and Vanity Fair napkins — all subsidiaries of Koch Industries — in an initiative called “No-Buy Fridays.”

“…We begin to elevate our power to say, ‘No, I’m not buying your products because you’re harming the black community,’” Boyd said.

However, contrary to Boyd’s claims, Koch Industries plays no role in backing “Stand Your Ground” laws and lobbies on few firearms issues.

“Koch has had no involvement in Stand Your Ground legislation whatsoever.  We have had no discussions at SYG with anyone at the American Legislative Exchange Council, the legislative policy group asserted to be involved in the issue,” Melissa Cohlmia, director of corporate communications for Koch Industries, told Red Alert Politics in an email. ”In fact, the only lobbying on firearms issues we have ever undertaken in Florida was in opposition to the National Rifle Association’s support for a bill that mandated employers must allow employees to bring firearms onto company property.”

The town hall, sponsored by Rock the Vote, among other organizations, addressed concerns from members of the African-American community and featured a panel of six speakers: Boyd, Louisa Davis, Jessica Frances Dukes, Dr. Dennis Rogers, Dawn Ursula and Gabriel Rojo. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) was also in attendance for a brief period of time.

The group acted to facilitate a dialogue on the actions of Zimmerman — the 29-year-old Hispanic man who shot and killed Martin, an African-American — and called Martin’s death the catalyst for a “renewed civil rights movement.”

“To me, it’s a continuation of a tough conversation … that puts more to our argument that there can never be justice on stolen land,” said Rogers, an assistant professor of political science at Bowie State University.

While many on the panel believed Zimmerman killed Martin because of his race, others saw it as a failure of the justice system, faulting the jury’s inability to see past Martin’s black skin and Zimmerman’s white complexion. The six-person jury consisted of five white women and one Hispanic woman.

“Emmett Till was a young prince who broke our hearts years ago, but now, I guess what I want to say is I don’t want to blame George Zimmerman,” said Davis, an adjunct professor at Montgomery College. “I want us to look at the system that let him free and not make it personal … It’s the propagation of fear and we have to take our legal system back from fear.”

Following Zimmerman’s acquittal, many African-Americans took to the streets of major metropolitical cities nationwide in protest. The Rev. Al Sharpton called on the Department of Justice to bring up civil rights charges against Zimmerman. And even President Obama spoke about his disappointment surrounding the not guilty verdict, saying Martin could have been him.

Still, many remain standing in solidarity with Martin. Earlier this month, Ebony magazine unveiled four tribute covers to the Florida teen, one featuring Martin’s family and three featuring well known African-American men and their sons and the words “We Are Trayvon.” Additionally, Oprah Winfrey spoke openly about the case with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon, saying Martin paralleled Till.

This piece has been updated to include new information.

Comments

Polititainment

WH responds to 'Deport Justin Bieber' petition

Despite the pleas of more than 270,000 Americans to deport Justin Bieber, the White House has chosen not to weigh in on the issue. However, the Obama administration did use a petition calling on the White House to revoke the pop artist's green card to plug President Barack Obama's plan for immigration reform.

Secret Service once threatened Mr. Met's life

Mr. Met sure has a lot of fans in New York. But the larger-than-life mascot definitely doesn't have one in the Secret Service, who threatened to shoot and kill him if he approached President Bill Clinton, according to a firsthand account.

Jill Biden on Joe: "I fell in love with the boys first"

Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden didn't marry Vice President Joe Biden for his sense of humor -- instead, she "fell in love" with his two sons first.

Joe Biden's first Instagram photo

Ladies and gentlemen of this great nation, rejoice! Vice President Joe Biden has joined Instagram -- and his first post is everything you ever dreamed it would be.

Celebrate Tax Day with this ditty

What better way to celebrate curse Tax Day than with a little toe-tapping, finger-snapping ditty that perfectly describes how we all feel about the Internal Revenue Service?

White House

PETA is peeved with Michelle Obama and used little girls to tell her about it

First Lady Michelle Obama has earned the ire of three young girls. But they're not upset with her less-than-filling "Let's Move!" school lunches. Instead, these youngins are upset about the real eggs used in the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Jay Carney: “Never been a more transparent administration”

Despite consistent objections by journalists that the White House overly restricts press access, Press Secretary Jay Carney believes that there has "never been a more transparent administration."

Jay Carney: Toughest interview for Obama in 2012 was with Jon Stewart

Give comedian Jon Stewart a gold star sticker. The host of The Daily Show was President Barack Obama's toughest interviewer during the 2012 election cycle, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday.

The most powerful selfie in the world

Joe Biden — he's just like you, and he takes selfies, too.

Obama: Republicans a threat to the right to vote

President Barack Obama slammed Republicans on Friday for supporting voter identification law and labeled the GOP as a threat to the right to vote.

Congress

Rep Black: GOP budget makes a path to a bright future

Our nation is $17.4 trillion in debt and out of control Washington spending has no end in sight. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that on our current trajectory we will return to $1 trillion annual budget deficits by the year 2022.

Cruz: Impeach Holder

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pulled no punches when criticizing Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, as he called on Congress to impeach the Department of Justice head.

Pelosi: GOP not acting on immigration because of race

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pulled the race card when speaking about Republicans' inaction in passing comprehensive immigration reform and said "race has something to do" with the GOP not bringing such legislation to the House floor.

House passes Ryan's budget plan

The House on Thursday passed a 10-year Republican spending plan drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Read more at The Washington Examiner.

Harry Reid's Koch-fueled meltdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been in a Koch-fueled rage, seizing moments left and right (mostly from the left) to bash Charles and David Koch.