Black St. Louis Leaders Call on Supporters to Boycott Target in Wake of Officer’s Acquittal

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Black St. Louis Leaders
Rev. Dinah Tatman, center, made the case for the economic boycott during a press conference Thursday, Nov. 2. (AP Photo)

Black faith leaders in St. Louis are calling for supporters for to boycott more than a dozen businesses, including Target and a local grocery store chain ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The group’s call for an economic boycott comes just two months after the acquittal of ex- officer Jason Stockley who was charged in the fatal shooting of Black man Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011, the Associated Press reported. Rev. Dina Tatman announced Thursday, Nov. 2., that the recent protests sparked by the contested verdict would continue in addition to the boycott.

Citing economic disparities, excessive use of force by police and recent efforts to diminish the power of the Black vote, Tatman made her case for the boycott at a news conference that morning.

“As Main Street America enjoys social and economic prosperity, our community continues to erode, causing intense strain on our family structure & resulting in high unemployment rates and wanton incarceration of our Black men,” Tatman said.

The boycott comes just ahead of the busy holiday season, which is no coincidence. The reverend said the group plans to stage a few “strategic” protests outside the businesses, but did not go into detail. Among the list of blacklisted businesses are retail giant Target, regional grocery chain Schnucks Markets and the local Galleria mall.

Organizers said the businesses are being targeted because of their alleged mistreatment of African-American employees and customers, or other reasons. For instance, Target is being boycotted because of a legal dispute over the use of Rosa Parks’ name and likeness on civil  rights-themed merchandise for Black History Month. The company has since responded in a statement, saying the lawsuit was filed several years ago and ultimately dismissed.

“We work with vendors and African-American team members and guests to ensure our Black History Month products will resonate with our guests,” Target Corp. said.

Meanwhile, Schnucks Markets, which operates over 60 stores in the St. Louis area, was blacklisted because its a major donor to Republican candidates, according to organizers. The grocer expressed surprise and disappointment at news of the boycott, saying that it hires workers “from across the demographic spectrum” and helps provide for low-income families.

As for the Galleria mall, it was the site for early protests where over 20 people were arrested, according to AP. Some of the protesters claim officers used excessive force against them.

The operator of the mall hasn’t responded to the boycott.

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