JLNYC has been cited as one of the most effective groups acting against police brutality, triggered by the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, M.O. and Eric Garner in N.Y.
In December, the group shutdown flagship Apple and Macy's locations in New York, where they said some employees joined their protests.
"We went into their house to bring awareness of what's happening in black and brown communities, while they are still comfortable in their lives" Perez said. "We're using different tactics because we understand that we need to move on this in a holistic approach."
Separately, the organization is exploring a plan to bring on a wider economic impact and researching firms that support what it calls "insidious and awful practices" with hopes to "tie it into the conversations" about social injustices. Changes to the policing system are just the tipping point, but the larger issues involve making changes to socioeconomic structures which starts with "giving our business to certain companies and also boycotting certain companies," Brown said.
African-Americans have some $1 trillion in buying power and that figure is forecast to reach $1.3 trillion by 2017, according to Nielsen. JLNYC hopes to use that buying power to apply pressure.
Depending on the subject, economic boycotts have mixed results. Divestiture campaigns, such as those directed at South Africa in the apartheid era, have traditionally had the most impact. Meanwhile, campaigns against large corporations—such as BP for the 2011 Gulf Coast oil spill—can put pressure on share prices and prompt action from a company.
However, successful protests need wide backing, experts say. Scholars at The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business have argued that "if the goal is to get the target company to give in to boycotters' demands, the success rate is not high."
FAU's Koku said that in general, the success of economic boycotts depends on a number of factors, including their ability to gain the sympathies of the larger population.
"You can't just say, 'I am counting on black and brown people to support me and therefore we will bring business to their knees…. You have to count on everybody," Koku said.
Carl Dix, co-founder of Stop Mass Incarcerations, said injustices against black people, including racial profiling, mass incarceration and police violence, are all interconnected. His organization has incorporated that aim to use consumer buying power to elicit change in the criminal justice system.
He said African Americans' buying power is often cited as a useful tool, but his research shows that most of that spending goes toward necessities like rent, food, shelter and communications, which makes it harder to participate in consumer protests.
Applying economic pressure has worked in the past, but he said "you have to target it very well," Dix said.