Protesters Rally in Berkeley For Whole Foods Workers To Openly Support Black Lives Matter
About 35 Whole Foods workers, ex-workers and supporters gathered outside of the store’s Berkeley Telegraph Avenue location on Saturday afternoon to protest the company and local management not allowing workers to wear masks and attire that says “Black Lives Matter.” The action followed and built on a similar larger event that occurred on Friday July 17, when, according to ex-Whole Foods worker Jordan Baker, about 250 people rallied outside of Whole Foods’ Gilman Street location.
Although protestors said they were also responding to a long history of racism and white supremacy at Whole Foods, one specific incident helped spark the rallies: management at the Gilman street location demanding that Baker, who is Black, remove a mask that said “Black Lives Matter” on it on July 14.
“Store leadership told me they wouldn’t want to get in the middle of me and an angry customer who was offended by me wearing something that says ‘Black Lives Matter,” said Baker. “They told me it was akin to someone wearing a MAGA mask and that it was a controversial statement.”
Management gave Baker the option of wearing another mask or leaving for the day. Not wanting to compromise her principals, Baker decided to leave. Although she had worked at Whole Foods for seven years, her entire adult working life up to that point, she quit the next day she was scheduled to work, July 17.
“I honestly don’t want to work for a company who only ‘supports’ a movement when it makes them look good, or makes them money,” said Baker in an instagram post she wrote on July 14 and edited on July 17.
Although Whole Foods’ website and a sign outside their Telegraph location states “Racism has no place here,” and “We support the Black community,” other workers locally and across the country say they also have faced repercussions for displaying the message “Black Lives Matter” while working in the store.
Workers at a Cambridge, Massachusetts Whole Foods said that, a little over a month ago, their management sent several workers home for wearing masks that said “Black Lives Matter.” One worker, Savannah Kinzer, was fired shortly after. The workers have filed a discrimination lawsuit that alleges…