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Publix halts political contributions in face of protestor "die-in"

David Hogg's March For Our Lives video diary
David Hogg's March For Our Lives video diary 02:21

Publix is backing down in a standoff with survivors of this year's mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school, saying it has suspended political contributions.

The regional supermarket chain, which is based in Florida, announced its decision amid a "die-in" at several Publix stores in the state to protest the supermarket chain's financial support for a gubernatorial candidate who opposes gun control.

Publix said Friday in a statement that it will "suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes." 

Earlier this week, the company had suggested future political donations might be handled differently, saying that "We did not intend to put our associates and the customers they serve in the middle of a political debate."

The lead organizer of the demonstration, which took place Friday afternoon, was Florida teen David Hogg, a senior 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. 

After participating in the protest, Diego Pfeiffer, a senior at the high school, tweeted that Publix's suspension is "proof that peaceful protest really works." 

Over Twitter, Hogg said some local residents planned to 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. 

Parkland, Florida, has become the heart of gun control activism 01:59
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