At Downtown BK Whole Foods, a call to boycott Amazon-owned grocer for ICE support

July 31, 2019 Jeffery Harrell
Protesters stood outside the Downtown Brooklyn Whole Foods, dissuading would-be customers from going inside. Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell
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Activists gathered outside Whole Foods on Tuesday evening, protesting the company’s support of immigration enforcement.

Whole Foods is owned by Amazon, which has provided technology and logistical support to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including controversial facial recognition software.

The protesters chanted “No Tech for ICE” and “Sí se puede!” outside the Whole Foods located at 292 Ashland Place in Downtown Brooklyn. They attempted to dissuade Brooklynites from shopping there with flyers reading, “Don’t pay your grocery money into ICE violence. Don’t feed your kids on racism.”

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Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell
Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell

“A lot of people don’t know that Whole Foods is Amazon, and they don’t realize what they are supporting,” said Tatiana Bejar, an organizer with nonprofit organization Hand in Hand. “We don’t want it to be normal to support locking kids up in cages, just getting your groceries like its no big deal.”

A diverse assembly of immigrant workers, organizers and concerned Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens residents attended the rally. They took turns reading testimony from children who had previously been held in border detention camps.

Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell
Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell

Make the Road New York and the Carroll Gardens Association worked with Hand in Hand to put together the rally.

The group of activist organizations was spurred to action by the recent ICE raids that swept through New York City, at least six of which took place in Brooklyn.

“ICE and the immigration forces are here in our community, and we don’t want them here” said Namrata Pradhan, a Midwood resident who works as a nanny in Brooklyn. “We want to shut down Whole Foods when they are helping rip families apart.”

Pradhan also represents the National Domestic Workers Alliance, several members of which attended the rally.

Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell
Eagle photo by Jeffery Harrell

Dalia Vargas, also a domestic worker in Midwood, felt it was her responsibility to speak out against Amazon and Whole Foods.

“Amazon is already a bad employer, and they support deporting immigrants,” said Vargas. “We want to get the word out that Whole Foods is a part of that.”

The groups also pointed to the poor working conditions many Amazon workers face as further evidence of the need to shut down their business.

Whole Foods did not return a request for comment.

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