Parkland Activists Plan Die-in at Problematic Publix Grocery Stores

Parkland

Survivors of the Parkland school shooting will participate in a die-in at a Florida-based grocery chain Friday, the latest example of gun control activists employing protest techniques used historically by the LGBT movement.

Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg called for a die-in at Publix, a grocery chain that’s faced repeated controversy this year. Most recently, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix took flack after a Tampa Bay Times investigation found the regional chain’s current leadership and heirs of the company’s founder donated more than $670,000 to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a leading Republican candidate for governor. Putnam last year dubbed himself a “proud #NRASellout.”

Hogg won media prominence earlier this year following the February 14 shooting at his high school that left 17 people dead. He and other MSD students, including The Advocate Hall of Fame 2018 inductee Emma Gonzalez, have since led marches and called for stronger gun legislation opposed by the National Rifle Association. The Advocate this year is also honoring the Parkland survivors as part of Champions of Pride.

The teenage activist called for a 12-minute die-in on Friday inside Publix locations and said activists in Parkland would participate at two locations in their community. “Feel free to die in with us at as many other Publix locations as possible,” Hogg tweeted.

Publix officials maintain they support Putnam for reasons outside his stance on gun control, but say recent boycotts sparked a re-evaluation of the company’s political engagement.

“We have a history of supporting candidates focused on job growth and a healthy Florida economy. We regret that some of our political contributions have led to an unintentional customer divide instead of our desire to support a growing economy in Florida,” reads a statement provided by Publix to The Advocate. “It is important to understand that the vast majority of our giving is focused on organizations whose mission supports youth, education and the plight of the hungry and homeless within our area of operation.”

Publix has not responded yet about how it will respond to a die-in inside its stores.

This isn’t the first time this year Publix became embroiled in a political controversy. The chain in February came under fire for refusing to cover the HIV-prevention drug PrEP, but reversed course following a meeting with an out Florida lawmaker.

(RELATED: A Long History of Discrimination at Grocery Behemoth Publix)

Gonzalez earlier spoke to The Advocate about how lessons she studied through her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance informed the protests led by Parkland kids today. “It takes from the LGBT movement,” she said during an interview from Hogg’s home.

Die-ins have been employed in movements from ACT UP to Gays Against Guns.

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