Retail leaders speak out about underlying issues
NEW YORK — Target, CVS and Walmart were among the retailers forced to temporarily close stores over the weekend in the face of ongoing protests across the country.
Target is temporarily closing stores in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. The retailer said in a statement on Sunday that it was also prioritizing the rebuilding of its heavily damaged Lake Street store in Minneapolis, which is located near where George Floyd was killed by police on May 25.
“We have teams working to provide basic first aid supplies, water and essentials through partnerships with local nonprofits,” the company’s statement said. “We appreciate members of the community and our team who have assisted in cleaning in and around that location. We are now boarding the store up until we can survey the location and begin recovery efforts.”
A number of key retail executives also addressed the killing that sparked the protests in statements to their companies and the public.
“We are a community in pain,” Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell wrote. “That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities—it extends across America. The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We say their names and hold a too-long list of others in our hearts. As a Target team, we’ve huddled, we’ve consoled, we’ve witnessed horrific scenes similar to what’s playing out now and wept that not enough is changing. And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose.
“Every day, our team wakes up ready to help all families—and on the hardest days we cling even more dearly to that purpose. As I write this, our merchant and distribution teams are preparing truckloads of first aid equipment and medicine, bottled water, baby formula, diapers and other essentials, to help ensure that no one within the areas of heaviest damage and demonstration is cut off from needed supplies.
“Our store and HR teams are working with all of our displaced team members, including the more than 200 team members from our Lake Street store in Minneapolis. We will make sure they have their full pay and benefits in the coming weeks, as well as access to other resources and opportunities within Target. We’ll continue to invest in this vibrant crossroads of the Seward, Longfellow, Phillips and Powderhorn communities, preserving jobs and economic opportunity by rebuilding and bringing back the store that has served as a community resource since 1976. In any of our other locations that are damaged or at risk, the safety and well-being of our team, guests and the surrounding community will continue to be our paramount priority.”
Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon also responded to the killing of Floyd.
“At a time when our response to the COVID-19 crisis has brought out the best in us, what took place earlier this week is further proof we must remain vigilant in standing together against racism and discrimination,” McMillon stated. “Doing so is not only at the heart of the values of our company, it’s at the core of the most basic principles of human rights, dignity and justice.
“As we continue to monitor the situations unfolding across Minneapolis, we will keep our focus on prioritizing the safety of our associates and customers.
“What our country experienced this week yet again reminds us of the need for us to support each other and to come together. Until we, as a nation, confront and address these hard realities, we will never achieve the best of what we can be.”
Walgreens Boots Alliance executive vice chairman and chief executive officer Stefano Pessina also addressed the killing and the protests it has inspired.
“On behalf of everyone at Walgreens Boots Alliance, we share the sadness and sense of injustice felt by so many about the tragic death of George Floyd, and the disturbing pattern of similar incidents across the United States,” Pessina said in a statement. “We affirm our support for the communities of color who have been so profoundly affected by this incident and others like it, and we absolutely denounce hatred, racism, stereotyping and bigotry in any form.
“Across the United States and in the 9,500 communities and neighborhoods where our Walgreens stores serve our customers and patients, we hope everyone will come together to constructively address many underlying issues and the systems of oppression at this critical time.
“Walgreens Boots Alliance strongly believes in the principles of peace and nonviolence, which are vitally important to remember today. We are deeply committed to the diversity, inclusiveness, equal treatment and safety of all people, including our more than 230,000 Walgreens team members and 8 million daily Walgreens customers and patients.
“We will continue to champion the health and wellbeing of all, and work to foster change and build bridges in every way possible.”