Deadline Extended

Know a young conservative who should be on Red Alert's 2015 '30 Under 30' List? Nominate them by May 29.

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

Anti-Stephanopoulos artwork invades NYC

Posters depicting ABC News anchor George Stephanopolous and a smiling Hillary Clinton with the words "PayPal" and "Donate" written on them have been popping up close to the studio where ABC shoots Good Morning America.

Rubio gets first celeb endorsement

The Florida senator and official GOP candidate for president has just received a big celebrity endorsement from Rick Harrison of the popular show "Pawn Stars," according to a report in the Las Vegas Sun.

Snoop Dogg endorses Hillary Clinton

Snoop Dogg became the latest rapper to endorse the Democratic presidential candidate during his appearance on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" over the weekend.

John Oliver shocked by House NSA reform

John Oliver was shocked to hear that the House recently passed NSA reform.

Introducing the 2016 SNL primary

The weekend comedy show has been skewering candidates for president left and right -- some more than others -- so much so that we thought it a good idea to track the program's focus on specific candidates.

Video

t u

2016

Are LinkedIn users ready for Hillary?

The presidential hopeful announced her arrival to the professional social networking site on Thursday with a post listing “Four Ways to Jump-Start Small Business.”

Clinton Foundation got $26M in undisclosed payments

The Clinton Foundation on Thursday made public that it received up to $26.4 million in previously undisclosed payments from corporations, universities, and even foreign sources, according to the Washington Post.

Clinton got now-classified Benghazi info on email

WASHINGTON (AP) Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton received information on her private email server about the deadly attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi that has now been classified.

Clinton hires illegal immigrant to campaign staff

According to the New York Times, the Clinton campaign announced Wednesday that it has hired Lorella Praeli, an illegal immigrant and "Dreamer" activist, to spearhead Hispanic outreach for Hillary ahead of 2016.

AP reporter: Hillary only talking to supporters

According to Associated Press reporter Julie Pace, the small events that have made up the bulk of Hillary's presidential campaign thus far have involved the Democratic candidate only interacting with Americans who support her and not a more representative fraction of the actual U.S. population.

Policy

Professor: Americans can't handle owning guns

In an op-ed for The Dallas Morning News, Prof. John Traphagan, who teaches religious studies and anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, demands that Americans give up gun ownership after several tragic, high-profile shootings that have taken place recently.

Obama: Climate change is a security 'threat'

Obama spoke of global warming's looming threat during his commencement address to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, Wednesday.

Poll: Most Americans highly value privacy

For all the talk about “privacy,” the word “privacy” can sometimes be a nebulous concept, about which people hold contradictory views.

Poll: Dems support federal ban on hate speech
It seems that a lot of Americans don’t think that freedom of speech should be protected anymore. A poll released Wednesday by YouGov has found that a small majority of the American public support limiting the First Amendment if it means banning hate speech. The poll, conducted in early May, asked respondents whether they would support […]
Rand Paul filibuster highlights

In the end, Rand Paul’s Patriot Act filibuster failed to crack his previous record, clocking in at roughly 10.5 hours.