Whole Foods hands out sandwiches to Baltimore riot cops, tries to cover it up
As the people of Baltimore take to the streets to fight back against decades of systemic racism and police brutality, crunchy granola grocery store Whole Foods is on the scene with some much needed rations. Only instead of giving them to the non-violent protestors, volunteer clean-up crews or kids who went hungry because school was canceled today, they’re giving them to the fucking cops.
In a photo posted to the Whole Foods Harbor East Instagram and Facebook accounts on Tuesday, National Guard troops with semiautomatic rifles can be seen smiling with a big bag of free-range, organic goodies. The caption thanks them for “keeping Baltimore safe.”
(Perhaps as a result of push back from Whole Foods’ generally progressive clientele, the WF social media team has since deleted the post, but the Internet never forgets.)
Of course, this begs the question: keeping Baltimore safe for whom? Was Baltimore safe for Freddie Gray when the police summarily executed him for the crime of getting the fuck away from those who might–and did–harm him? Is it safe for the 102 people who’ve won court judgments in police brutality cases against the city since 2011, some of them for vicious assaults that left them crippled? Is America safe for the 400+ people killed by the police each year? How about the two black men killed by police each week? And those are just the ones that are counted. In contrast, how many people have the Baltimore protestors murdered? Remember, cop car windows don’t count.
This is hardly the first time Whole Foods has dabbled in right-wing politics; from the company’s history of artisanal union busting to its suspension of workers for speaking Spanish to CEO John Mackee’s opposition to healthcare reform, “America’s healthiest grocery store” has shown time and again that the empathy it has for egg-laying hens does not extend to human beings. It’s a bastion of health-as-luxury-item and right-libertarianism that attempts to naturalize unrestrained capitalism as the best of all possible worlds. So it makes perfect sense that this week in Baltimore, when the shit hit the fan, those kale-powered eco-fascists would side with those defending property rights over those defending human ones.
UPDATE 1: It has recently come to my attention that in my hurry to get this post up, I incorrectly referred to the National Guard troops deployed to Baltimore to quell the riots as “riot cops.” My apologies. I’ll just call them “the violent arm of the state” from now on.
UPDATE: 2: Whole Foods has since issued the following statement (via The Daily Dot):
“The Harbor East store removed the Facebook post because we realized it reflects only one of the many ways we are helping out.”
“We’re all Baltimoreans and have supported community organizations for many years to improve lives around our city. Currently, we are providing food and water to children across our city by partnering with rec centers and community organizations, and have been doing so in parallel with providing food and water to first responders.”