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Stevie Wonder to boycott Florida over 'stand your ground' law

Entertainer Stevie Wonder arrives at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial dedication ceremony at the National Memorial in Washington October
Entertainer Stevie Wonder arrives at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial dedication ceremony at the National Memorial in Washington October

(Reuters) - Rhythm and blues singer Stevie Wonder said he will not perform in Florida until the state discards a "stand your ground" law that played a prominent role in the defense of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman who was acquitted in a racially charged murder trial.

The black Rock and Roll Hall of Fame enshrinee made his comments at a concert on Sunday in Quebec City, Canada, according to a video posted on YouTube.

"For the gift that God has given me, and for whatever I mean, I decided today that until the 'stand your ground' law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again," Wonder said to applause.

He did not mention the Zimmerman trial by name in the video-clip posted online.

A jury acquitted Zimmerman, 29, on Saturday of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. The verdict touched off demonstrations in major U.S. cities.

Prosecutors said Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, wrongly suspected Martin of being a criminal because he was black. Defense lawyers argued Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense.

The Florida law, which was approved in 2005 and has been copied in some form by about 30 other states, allows people fearing for their lives to use deadly force without having to retreat from confrontation, even if it is possible.

"For wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world," Wonder added.

Wonder, 63, has no future concert dates listed on his website. He is expected to perform at the Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park in September.

Representatives for the "Superstition" singer did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Mary Milliken and Mohammad Zargham)

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