On March 25th, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law controversial new voting legislation that President Biden called, “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” SB 202 adds new ID requirements to absentee voting, restricts access to ballot drop boxes, and bans the distribution of food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places. Gov. Kemp’s signature was met with a flurry of blowback on social media and from social justice organizations.
The calls to abandon Georgia’s film industry echo 2019 protests when Gov. Kemp signed HB 481 into law, which banned most abortions after six weeks. The bill was set to go into effect in January 2020. However, after lawsuits were brought forth by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, District Judge Steve C. Jones ruled the bill to be unconstitutional in July 2020.
Utilizing the hashtag #BoycottGeorgia, Civil Rights groups called for a boycott of Delta, Coca-Cola, and Home Depot, as well as a ceasing of film productions in the state. James Mangold, Director of Ford v. Ferrari, Logan, and an upcoming Indiana Jones film, said, “Georgia has been using cash to steal movie jobs from other states that allow people to vote. I don’t want to play there.” In addition, Mark Hammil of Star Wars fame seconded Mangold’s sentiment with a tweet stating #NoMoreFilmingInGeorgia."
Following the public outcry, Coca-Cola, and Delta have since denounced the bill, and the MLB pulled their All-Star game from the state. While the boycott has influenced companies to take action, it is still unclear why Georgia is being targeted as ground zero for a boycott. As of April 1st, 2021 the Brennan Center for Justice is reporting a total of 361 bills that restrict voting access have been introduced in 47 states, notably Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Michigan.
In an op-ed in USA Today, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams calls for the boycott to be held off. She noted that “the events and films that are coming to Georgia will speak out against the laws. And they will hire the targets of SB 202: young people, people of color and minimum wage workers who want to elect leaders to fight for their economic security.” She continued to write, “I again repeat my admonition from 2019 that leaving us behind won’t save us. So, I ask you to bring your business to Georgia and, if you’re already here, stay and fight. Stay and vote.”