Linn Benton NAACP and Corvallis community members march against racial profiling at local Fred Meyer – The Daily Barometer

The Linn Benton NAACP led dozens of people from Franklin Square Park to Corvallis Fred Meyer on March 12 to protest the racial profiling local black women have experienced at the store.

“All dollars don’t matter until black dollars matter” and “No justice, no peace, no profit” were chanted during the march.

The cases of racial profiling were chronicled in a press release sent by the NAACP on March 11. The women, who did not want their names used for fear of reprisal, described their experiences with the Corvallis and Albany Fred Meyers, whose staff refused to take checks and be patrolled and monitored by employees while shopping.

“[Fred Meyer], you have a responsibility to hit, what I like to call, a hard reset,” Jason J. Dorsette, president of the Linn Benton NAACP, said during the march. “Specifically, an inclusive hard reset values ​​all customers, all customers, all shoppers, all citizens, all undocumented, all allies – everyone who spends money at your establishment.”

During the march, the NAACP asked Fred Meyer to finish on certain dates. The first request asked Fred Meyer to publicly apologize to “all those offended by the offensive behavior of Fred Meyer’s staff” and to publicly commit to a non-discriminatory approach to customer service by March 16. .

The second request asked local and regional Fred Meyer management to meet with Dorsette “to further discuss the issue of discrimination at Fred Meyer” by April 6.

At a rally ahead of the march, Dorsette said he received an email from regional manager Fred Meyer asking to “meet and get together”.

In response, Dorsette said that Fred Meyer was “a dollar behind and fifty cents down”. Dorsette said he would not meet with the regional manager until there was a public apology to everyone offended.

“Our third request: Fred Meyer to engage the services of a local equity, diversity and inclusion consultant and/or organization to facilitate the required workshops for shift managers and regional managers regarding bias, equity and inclusion,” Dorsette said. “This action should be completed no later than Wednesday, June 1.”

For the final request, Dorsette said, “Fred Meyer is to design a customer protocol for buyers to report discrimination, provide quarterly reports of results to local newspapers, and post quarterly reports on Fred Meyer’s website.”

In the event that the demands are not met, Dorsette said he would provide insight into what a boycott against Fred Meyer would look like.

Janie Tebeau, one of the walk speakers and second vice president of the Linn Benton NAACP, has been a lifelong resident of Oregon. Tebeau said that for a long time it was hard to get black hair care products in other stores, and Fred Meyer wore them.

“But every time you came here [Fred Meyer], you would be tracked and the section would be heavily guarded,” Tebeau said. “I am so tired.”

Sakina Hjerpe, another walk speaker, shared that on April 27, 2021, she went to the Corvallis Fred Meyer to do some shopping for her family. Hjerpe is an immigrant and when she showed Fred Meyer’s employee her federal ID, they refused her. Hjerpe said when she asked why, Fred Meyer’s response was that the employee helping her was “having a bad day.”

“I’m hungry, my kids were hungry,” Hjerpe said. “Fred Meyer, you are responsible for all of this, you are responsible and I will remind you again.”

Linn-Benton NAACP activist Coordinator Chelle Williams said she’s been shopping at Fred Meyer since 2014. Williams said many times when she walked to the self-checkout counter, an employee was standing right behind her. The last day Williams shopped at Fred Meyer was Nov. 15, 2021, after asking the employee standing behind her at the self-checkout counter why he was standing behind her. Williams asked for a manager, and their response was “she’s just doing her job”.

Williams asked to speak to another manager, but he did not respond to Williams’ question as to why the self-check employee was standing behind her.

“Maybe that was his job, to support people of color,” Williams said.

Before adjourning the protest in front of Fred Meyer and returning to Franklin Square Park, Fred Meyer’s corporate office met the group outside the store.

Jeffrey Temple, director of general affairs at Corvallis Fred Meyer, said they opened an investigation and held a team meeting this morning at the Corvallis and Albany sites to open communications with their associates.

“We look forward to learning more about the allegations and understanding what happened,” Temple said.

The crowd demanded a public apology from Temple.

“If you had a bad experience, I apologize on behalf of Fred Meyer,” Temple said. “If anyone had a bad experience at our store, for whatever reason, I apologize.”

Dorsette thanked everyone for their walk and Temple for their apologies.

“It’s not about allegations, okay, it’s prejudice,” Dorsette said. “It happened… These are real experiences that happened to real people.”

Dorsette said he looks forward to having a chat with Fred Meyer once he sees the store publicly apologizing in the news.

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