Black Leaders Urge Boycott of Retailers in St. Louis
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 11/3/2017, noon
Black St. Louis faith and civic leaders involved in recent protests over the acquittal of a former white police officer in the killing of a Black suspect are calling for supporters to boycott a dozen businesses, including Target and a grocery store chain, reports the Associated Press (AP). The group issued its call for an economic boycott of the businesses on Thursday (Nov. 2), nearly two months after the acquittal of Jason Stockley in the 2011 killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. The verdict sparked a series of protests over the treatment of Blacks by the justice system, which the Rev. Dinah Tatman said will continue in addition to the boycott. At a news conference announcing the boycott, Tatman also said Blacks are subjected to excessive force by police, criminalized for minor infractions and saddled with long sentences. She also cited economic disparities, efforts to diminish voting rights and political redistricting that has made it harder for Black people to have their voices heard in elections. “As Main Street America enjoys social and economic prosperity, our community continues to erode, causing intense strain on our family structure and resulting in high unemployment rates and wanton incarceration of our Black men,” Tatman said at a news conference. The timing of the boycott is no coincidence, coming as the Christmas shopping season nears. Tatman said some “strategic” protests are planned outside of businesses during the holiday season, but she declined to offer details. Organizers say some of the businesses are being targeted for their alleged mistreatment of Black workers or customers, or for other reasons. Target Corp., which has 18 stores in the St. Louis area, is listed because of a legal dispute allowing it to use Rosa Parks’ name and image on civil rights-themed merchandise. Target said in a statement that the lawsuit filed several years ago “was without merit and was dismissed.” The company said it works hard to “demonstrate inclusivity” in its products, including a collection of items celebrating Black History Month.