Whole Foods Market is facing the threat of a boycott after 40 people protested in front of its Cambridge, Massachusetts, store Sunday after seven employees left work after being told they could not wear Black Lives Matter masks, according to the Boston Globe.
"There should be no place safe for racism, and the only way that happens is if they say it out loud and stop hiding behind neutrality," protester Jason Slavick told the newspaper.
Slavick lives across the street and stood in front of the store along with other boycott organizers, handing out information with contact information for Whole Foods management.
Suverino Frith, who was one of the employees asked to leave, said management wanted to be "careful people" not to take sides in the social justice issue.
"They don't want to alienate anyone," Frith told the crowd. "They don't really want to choose a side; they just want to seem like they are. Only that's too bad, because we're choosing a side for them."
Frith continued, "With the core values that we have at the company, that we always talk about, it didn't seem like that would be the response," Frith continued.
A Whole Food spokesperson confirmed to the New York Post that workers were prohibited from wearing clothing that promoted social statements to keep the environment in the store "customer-focused."
According to WHDH, days after the employees were told to go home, more than 20 workers at the store walked off in protest June 30.
"I don't know what it is about Black Lives Matter that threatens store management, but silencing our support for black lives is silencing the customers and communities we hold dear," Whole Foods employee Savannah Kinzer told the station.
"Team members with face masks that do not comply with dress code are always offered new face masks," the spokesperson wrote in a statement to the New York Post. "Team members are unable to work until they comply with dress code."
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