Discrimination Claims at Whole Foods Leads to Rev. Al Sharpton’s NAN Involvement

Apr 14, 2024

#BlackoutNewark Movement says enough is enough, its bigger than us.

NEWARK, New Jersey -- The New Jersey State delegation of National Action Network (NAN) convened a meeting Friday with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, City Council Speaker Mildred Crump, Northeast Regional Director of NAN Pastor Steffie Bartley, and #BlackoutNewark Leaders regarding the recent racial discrimination incident at Whole Foods Market. On October 3, 2020, an African-American customer claimed he was profiled, assaulted, and detained after allegedly shoplifting in the Newark store. Facts later showed the shoplifting claims were false.

Research shows additional incidents of discrimination against customers and employees were reported at Whole Foods Market located in Boston, Oakland, Charlotte, Connecticut, and Philadelphia urban markets. The meeting was held Friday at 12:30 P.M. in the office of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, to form a coalition addressing past allegations to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

"While we welcome capital investment in Newark, we will not compromise our residents’ dignity and respect,” states Mayor Ras Baraka. “We are working towards building a stronger, more thriving Newark."

Other leaders have joined in solidarity to collaboratively develop strategies that identifies and prevents further malpractices of Black Americans being unfairly targeted, harassed, and assaulted.

"This appears to be more than an isolated incident,” states Pastor Steffie Bartley, Northeast Regional Director of NAN. “We stand against People of Color being publicly humiliated solely based on improper perceptions. We cannot let corporations take our hard-earned money, only to violate our Civil Rights."

On October 6, 2020, #BlackoutNewark led an 8 minute and 46 second die-in demonstration, while the leader laid on the ground outside the grocery store in honor of George Floyd--an African-American man killed by Police after leaving a Minneapolis grocery store. Once the video surfaced, Whole Foods Market spokesperson admitted the search and detention was in violation of company protocol. In a public apology, Whole Foods blames their 3rd-party contractor, Elite Security.

"There is a New York City contingency prepared to send a clear message to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey that we will not tolerate any forms of systemic oppression,” states Reverend Kevin McCall, Civil Rights leader and Founder of Brooklyn Crisis Action Center. “Not against customers...not against workers...and not in our backyard.”

Web Analytics