CHICAGO (CBS) — Survivors of this year’s mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school are staging a “die-in” at some Publix stores in the state to protest the supermarket chain’s financial support for a pro-gun rights candidate for governor.
The lead organizer of the demonstration, which is set to take place Friday afternoon, is Florida teen David Hogg, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were shot to death and 17 others were injured in a Feb. 14 rampage by a former student.
Over Twitter, Hogg said some local residents will lie down for 12 minutes at two local Publix stores. He also encouraged similar protests at the supermarket chain’s other locations. Hogg said in a video posted to his feed that more students have been killed in school this year than U.S. soldiers serving abroad.
Publix has faced public backlash for bankrolling a supporter of the National Rifle Association for governor. Hogg and other activists called for a boycott of the regional chain after the Tampa Bay Times reported that Publix had given $670,000 during the last three years to Adam Putnam, a Republican who is currently the state’s agricultural commissioner.
Publix, which is based in Lakeland, Florida, and is the state’s largest private employer, operates 1,172 stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Roughly 800 of those locations are in Florida.
Since the shooting in Parkland, Putnam has drawn the ire of gun-control advocates by opposing the Florida’s new restrictions on gun purchases, as well as by describing himself as a “proud NRA sellout.”
Publix initially issued a statement saying it supported “bi-partisan, business-friendly candidates,” then took to social media to state it has not provided financial support to the NRA.
The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. But Publix earlier in the week suggested future political donations might be handled differently.
“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,” Publix said Tuesday in an emailed statement.
“As a result of this situation, we are evaluating our processes to ensure that our giving better reflects our intended desire to support a strong economy and a healthy community.”
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