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

Billy Joel: Obama smoking story 'untrue'

After a report emerged from a source for The Hill newspaper that Joel on a trip to Washington, D.C., claimed that he recently smoked a cigarette with President Obama, the musician is now denying the story.

Pharrell: Brown's actions 'bully-ish'

Musician Pharrell Williams said in a recent Ebony magazine interview that President Obama "should have gone down" to Ferguson to address the situation.

Billy Joel smoked with Obama

According to one of The Hill's sources, Obama invited Billy Joel to have a cigarette with him when the musician made a recent trip to the White House.

Beckham's catch = Obama's executive act

You know it is.

'SNL' remakes Schoolhouse Rock
“Saturday Night Live” hit today’s political process right on the nose during the show’s cold open. Spoofing Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill,” Kenan Thompson as the bill tried to explain how he becomes a law. But before he can make his way  to President Obama’s desk to be officially signed into law, Obama beats him […]

White House

White House claims Obama is ‘not a media critic’

The White House doesn’t really seem to have a problem contradicting itself, so maybe this latest whopper shouldn’t surprise us.

Obama uses turkey pardoning to joke about his executive action on immigration
This is one executive action President Obama is sure won’t ruffle Republicans’ feathers. In fact, he’s so sure of that fact that he decided to make a joke during the annual turkey pardoning referencing his unprecedented use of executive action to grant amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants. “I’m here to announce what I’m sure will […]
Poll: Americans split on Obama’s immigration order
Americans are sharply split on their reaction to President Barack Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration that will essentially give amnesty to about five million undocumented immigrants,according to a new poll. The latest Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday found that 45 percent of voters support the president’s move, while 48 percent opposes it. Support for […]
Eric Holder stresses that federal investigations in Ferguson are not over

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement Monday night assuring rioters that the Justice Department still has two investigations to complete in Ferguson.

Obama appeals for calm after Ferguson decision

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama appealed for calm and understanding in Ferguson on Monday after a grand jury decided not to indict in the death of Michael Brown, pleading with both residents and police officers to show restraint.

Congress

Pelosi and Obama versus Schumer and America

This is like one of those times a member of a professional wrestling posse turns heel on national television and sets off the drama.

Rand blames 'politicians,' drug war in Ferguson

Sen. Rand Paul’s Time op-ed on Ferguson Tuesday blamed politicians for creating “a culture of violence” through the War on Drugs, and urged Ferguson protesters to “channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change.”

Why are House Members exempt from ethics training?
Two U.S. representatives are questioning a curious practice on the Hill that exempts House Members from ethics training. But it doesn’t look like they are getting much support from their colleagues that enjoy this perk. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), and Scott Rigell (R-Va.), are urging congressional leaders to end the House exemption on the annual ethics […]
Paul calls for formal declaration of war on ISIS

Sen. Rand Paul wants Congress to formally declare war against ISIS.

The fallout from Boehner not owning a dog

President Obama's offer to smooth over an immigration reform compromise with Speaker John Boehner has turned out to be a case of barking up the nonexistent tree.