Updated: What some retailers had to say post-protests, George Floyd death

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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In the past week, retailers have issued responses to the protests and national unrest that occurred across the country over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, around which stores  being looted and damaged.

Target is based in Minneapolis, where Floyd died in police custody and where four officers have been charged in connection to his death. Following the protests and looting, Target spoke quickly with an issued letter from CEO Brian Cornell.

Cornell spoke on the pain felt in the Twin Cities and plans for its Lake Street store in Minneapolis that was damaged, and Target later followed up on six stores that were closed. 

“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," Cornell said. "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.”

Since that letter, Target has pledged: 

  • A $10 million investment from Target and the Target Foundation to support long-standing partners such as the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum in addition to adding new partners in Minneapolis-St. Paul and across the country. 
  • 10,000 hours of pro-bono consulting services for Black- and people-of-color-owned small businesses in the Twin Cities, helping with rebuilding efforts.
  • Continuing to provide essentials such as baby formula, diapers, medicine and more to communities most in need.
  • Target Circle, the company’s loyalty program, will offer guests the option to direct Target funds to local nonprofits and include organizations supporting social justice.

San Antonio-based H-E-B is another retailer that voiced a message, sharing a video message from president Craig Boyan and also announced the creation of a $1 million fund to help address racial inequalities and injustices in its area. The retailer also started an online donation campaign called “Be the Change,” where consumers can donate $1 to the fund in H-E-B regions.

Walgreens, a retailer that has seen looting, responded with a message from Stefano Pessina, executive vice chairman, CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance, wrote:

“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. 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.”

Kroger has set aside $5 million for a fund on diversity and inclusion, as part of its Kroger Co. Foundation.

Walmart has dedicated $100 million toward creating a center on racial inequality. The center will support philanthropic initiatives that align with four key areas: finance, health care, education and workforce, and criminal justice.

The retailer also addressed the “volatile environment” in its annual shareholders meeting, with Doug McMillon, president and CEO, telling shareholders before business:

“Despite operating in a difficult and volatile environment, our associates have been amazing. They have performed incredibly well given all the challenges. The killing of George Floyd is tragic, painful and unacceptable. It’s important that we all understand that our problems, as a nation, run much deeper than one horrible event. The pain we’re feeling reminds us of the need to support each other and come together. Until we, as a nation, confront and address these hard realities, we will never achieve the best of what we can be. Walmart is an inclusive company. That is fundamental to our values and culture and we remain committed to those principles. We’re motivated to continue our work related to diversity and inclusion inside our company and to find ways to influence the various systems that exist in our country in a more impactful, positive and inclusive way. In terms of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are grateful to our associates from around the world. They are stepping up to serve our customers, communities and shareholders. Our plan is to continue finding ways to help and serve. We’re thankful to have a strong and well-positioned business from which to do so.”