Production of the upcoming “Emancipation” film starring Will Smith is being pulled from the state of Georgia, Smith and fellow producer Antoine Fuqua announced in a statement Monday, with the two saying they “cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws”—joining numerous other companies and executives slamming the new voting restrictions.
The business coalition Civic Alliance released a statement denouncing new voting restrictions being considered and enacted across the U.S., with signatories including massive companies like Twitter, Dow and Major League Baseball—along with the likes of Uber, Dow and HP—earlier this month.
The MLB soon after making the statement announced its 2021 All-Star Game would be relocated from Georgia to Colorado.
Apple CEO Tim Cook vociferously condemned sweeping new voting restrictions in Georgia, telling Axios, “It ought to be easier than ever for every eligible citizen to exercise their right to vote,” as he joins a growing list of executives who have criticized the new restrictions as calls grow to boycott Georgia’s biggest companies.
In a CNBC interview, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said the company was “very clear” on having a stance that “this legislation is wrong.”
In a memo, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, “I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” after pressure grew from activists to boycott large Georgia companies like Delta, Coca-Cola and Home Depot for not taking strong enough stances against the law.
The statements come after 72 Black business executives penned a letter urging companies to take a stand against the new voting restrictions in Georgia and similar proposals percolating elsewhere in the country.
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson Jr. and Vista Equity Partners chief executive of investment Robert F. Smith were among those who signed the letter.
Aflac—which is based out of Columbus, Georgia—put out a statement saying it would “not support” any voting legislation that doesn’t “make voting easy and accessible for every eligible voter.”
Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC owner Arthur Blank came out against the Georgia law in a statement Tuesday, saying, “Every voice and every vote matters and should be heard through our democratic process in Georgia.”
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon released a statement to CNN, which did not directly reference the Georgia law, but stated, “We stand against efforts” to make it harder for people to vote.
“The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting,” Smith and Fuqua said. “Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”
Activists and civil rights leaders had slammed the “shocking silence” by major companies, especially Delta and Coca-Cola, which has come under particular pressure after a local group of Black activists urged a boycott of the company. According to Bloomberg, both Coca-Cola and Delta were among the many companies that had donated to the sponsors of the Georgia voting law.
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill into law enacting numerous new voting restrictions in the state, such as shortening early voting hours, reducing the number of ballot drop boxes and outlawing the practice of having non-poll workers hand out water to voters waiting in often lengthy lines, in the name of preventing electioneering by the water toters. The bill flew through the GOP-controlled legislature, and appeared largely in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud that he still insists kept him from winning the state. Similar efforts are being pushed by Republican lawmakers in at least 43 states, with more than 250 bills filed this year aimed at limiting voting access, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
What To Watch For
Critics of the Georgia law say the new restrictions are simply an act of voter suppression, with legal challenges claiming as much. The ACLU, the NAACP and a voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams are among the organizations who have filed lawsuits claiming the law is illegal. Democrats in Congress are also moving forward with the For the People Act, which seeks to create national voting standards and could largely undo the new Georgia restrictions. Predictably, Republicans strongly oppose the measure, meaning it will be difficult to pass without reforming the Senate filibuster.