Sen. Raphael Warnock on Sunday declined to oppose boycotts of Georgia-based corporations and sporting events in response to the state’s new election law, saying, “we will see how that plays out.”
Companies headquartered in Atlanta, like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, have received “intense criticism” for not publicly opposing the Georgia law. Warnock, D-Ga., was asked whether boycotts “should be on the table” for these corporations.
“I think we all have to use our voices … I’ve seen these corporations falling over themselves every year around the time of the [Martin Luther] King holiday, celebrating Dr. King and yes, I think that the way to celebrate Dr. King is to stand up for what he represented, voting rights,” Warnock said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We will see how all of that plays out, but I’m focused on what we can do in the United States Senate.”
Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed a controversial election reform bill on Thursday after it was approved by the Republican-controlled legislature. The law includes several measures, including requiring voters to show valid forms of photo identification if voting by absentee ballot and limiting the number of drop boxes and the early voting period for runoffs.
Warnock was asked again about boycotts, and said, “Listen, I’m not focused on that. I am focused on what I can do as a United States senator.”
Voting rights activists delivered a staunch warning to Coca-Cola early last week about not speaking out against the legislation, saying they will organize a state-wide boycott, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bishop Reginald Jackson of the AME Sixth Episcopal District said if “Coca-Cola wants Black and Brown people to drink their product, then they must speak up when our rights, our lives and our very democracy as we know it is under attack.”
“This past summer, Coke and other corporations said they needed to speak out against racism. But they’ve been mighty quiet about this,” Jackson added.
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson took to Twitter on Friday to express his opposition to Coca-Cola, tweeting, “I am not buying @CocaCola products and now re-evaluating my relationships with
@Delta @HomeDepot @UPS as long as they are complicity silent.”
The National Black Justice Coalition, a Black and LGBTQ civil rights group, called out the annual Masters golf tournament, which is played at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Course, in a recent statement, saying they expect the tournament organizers to speak out and “take action” against the law.
“The PGA Tour and Masters Tournament have both made commitments to help diversify golf and address racial inequities in this country – and we expect them to not only speak out against Georgia’s new racist voter suppression law – but to also take action,” the statement read.
Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLB Players Association, told the Boston Globe on Friday that the players are ready to discuss moving the 91st MLB All-Star Game that is scheduled to be played in Atlanta in July. While he said they have not had a conversation with the league yet, he said the players association “would look forward to having that conversation.”
The annual event brings in tens of millions of dollars to the cities where the event is held, according to Baseball Almanac. Cobb County Chief Financial Officer William Volckmann in a memo estimated that the economic impact of the MLB All-Star in Atlanta and Georgia overall could range from $37 million to $190 million, according to Bleacher Report.
The Los Angeles Times published an op-ed on Thursday calling for the MLB to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta.