Protesters boycott Whole Foods store that sent employees home for Black Lives Matter masks


A Cambridge, Mass., Whole Foods has drawn dozens of protesters since management sent seven workers home for wearing face masks bearing the slogan “Black Lives Matter.”

More than 40 people gathered Sunday with signs in front of the store, the latest demonstration since they began protesting on June 25.

Protesters frequently urged passersby to shop for groceries elsewhere, breaking out in cheers every time they persuaded a would-be shopper to seek out another store, according to The Boston Globe.

Jason Slavick, who lives across the street from the Whole Foods, said he was once a frequent customer at the store but has since participated in a boycott, and that he and other organizers have reached out to both store managers and the Amazon-owned chain’s corporate offices to ask them to live up to their public statements of values.

“There should be no place safe for racism, and the only way that happens is if they say it out loud and stop hiding behind neutrality,” he told the newspaper.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told The Hill that its dress code prohibits noncompany-related slogans or messages on employee clothing

“Team Members with face masks that do not comply with dress code are always offered new face masks,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Team Members are unable to work until the comply with dress code.”

The spokesperson also referenced Amazon’s $10 million donation to racial justice causes and said the company had launched a task force focused on inclusion policies.

Suverino Frith, one of the workers that the Cambridge store sent home, addressed the crowd Sunday, saying the company had paid lip service to a movement that is increasingly popular among Americans without taking stronger action.

The company, he said, “are careful people who want to be loud but not too loud. They don’t want to alienate anyone. They don’t really want to choose a side; they just want to seem like they are. Only that’s too bad, because we’re choosing a side for them.”

Frith added that while he was aware of workers at other stores being turned away for the same reason, enforcement of some corporate rules is largely at individual store managers’ discretion, the Globe reported.

City Councillors Quinton Zondervan and Alanna Mallon also attended the Sunday protest, which Zondervan said “shouldn’t be necessary to get Whole Foods to do the right thing,” according to the newspaper.

Updated at 10:51 a.m.

Tags Amazon Black Lives Matter Masks Protests Whole Foods

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