Did you hear?
Dozens of the worlds hottest musical acts are joining music legend Stevie Wonder in protest of Floridas "stand your ground" law after the George Zimmerman trial, according to social networks and the blogosphere.
Memes zooming through social media name two dozen artists that have canceled their tour dates in the Sunshine State indefinitely "UNTIL THE LAW IN FLORIDA IS ABOLISHED!" The list is populated with world-famous acts such as Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Rihanna, Rod Stewart, Patti LaBelle, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Alicia Keys, Usher, will.i.am, R. Kelly, Trey Songz, Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, Ciara, Kelly Rowland and other groups.
Timberlake is singled out for nixing the kickoff of his tour in Miami because he refused "TO ENTERTAIN A STATE WHOS GOVERNMENT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO SHOOT-N-KILL UN-ARMED TEENAGERS!"
The PSA first caught PolitiFact Floridas eye when it was shared in Instagram. Then the list got more attention when versions of it trickled into mainstream coverage.
We are skeptical of chain emails and the like that are typed in ALL CAPS, contain misspellings and do not disclose their sources. The meme weve seen (which touts the misspelled names of RIHANA and ALISHIA KEYS as signing on) is a triple whammy.
We decided to investigate whether dozens of high-profile acts are really joining Wonder and boycotting Florida. Our synopsis: Just because its in the news does not make it true.
Adding names to Stevie Wonder's boycott
Talk of Florida boycotts started July 14, the day after Zimmermans "not guilty" verdict in the death of Trayvon Martin. Wonder announced then in Quebec City that he will never again perform in Florida until the 2005 "stand your ground" law is abolished.
He took it a step further: "As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world." (More than 20 other states have similar "stand your ground" laws.)
Several musical artists and celebrities reacted to the verdict with anger and disbelief. Many gave musical tributes to Martin, including Beyoncé, Young Jeezy, Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, Patti LaBelle, Bruce Springsteen, and Wyclef Jean.
But none of the artists on the Instagram list -- even those who have spoken out against the verdict -- publicly announced they are joining Wonders boycott. We checked social media accounts, websites and news reports and found no declarations of support for the boycott from the people on the list.
Still, it wasnt long before the story crossed over into news coverage. American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan cited "sources close to Stevie Wonder camp" for her July 22 report that claimed a similar slate of artists are joining him in support of changing "stand your ground." Some have already called off concerts, she wrote.
Her AURN report was picked up by congressional newspaper The Hill and the Huffington Post on July 22, read and shared by thousands. The next day, even more newspapers picked it up but tried to add a little more caution (including the Tampa Bay Times).
Ryans list contained two groups that were not on the Instagram roundup: Eddie Levert, lead singer of the R&B group The OJays, and gospel duo Mary Mary
"We love our fans but we MUST do something!!" Mary Mary wrote on Facebook. "We understand a No from us isnt as big as a No from Stevie Wonder but if all our voices join together we can REALLY change things!"