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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Calling for boycott, Georgia clergy blast Home Depot for ‘tearing down democracy’

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“We stand here collectively representing over 1,000 churches here in Georgia alone — 1,000 churches, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of parishioners or members,” Reverend Lee May of the Transforming Faith Church in Decatur said, according to NBC News. “We stand here collectively together to launch this boycott.” 

Rev. Timothy McDonald, the founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, accused Home Depot of being “in the business of building homes and, it appears, tearing down democracy.”

A Home Depot spokesperson said the company “decided that the most appropriate approach for us to take is to continue to underscore our statement that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure and support broad voter participation.”

It also appears to have decided that meeting with voting rights advocates could be risky optics for its brand, thereby taking a pass on standing up for the voting rights of all Americans. As Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church near Atlanta said, GOP lawmakers enacted the law “not because of voter fraud, but because of voter turnout.”

The 98-page law features a number of provisions aimed at restricting access at the ballot box with provisions designed to disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color and Democratic voters, more generally. It puts in place new voter ID requirements in order to vote by mail, provides less time to request absentee ballots, severely limits drop box access, effectively bans mobile voting centers, restricts who can vote via provisional ballot, makes it harder to extend voting hours, outlaws handing out any food or water to people waiting in line to vote, and importantly strips the power to oversee elections from state and local officials and instead hands it over to legislators in a state where Republicans control virtually every facet of government.   

The clergy members called on both Home Depot and GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the legislation behind closed doors, to meet with them about making adjustments to the law.

Kemp returned fire by saying Home Depot “did not ask to be in this political fight,” and calling it “unfair to them, to their families, to their livelihoods to get targeted.” Home Depot employs some 30,000 people in Georgia.

But the clergy members said Georgia now served as a focal point for the nation on the issue of voting rights. 

“We are here simply because injustice is here, and we realize that Georgia is now the talking head for the entire nation,” Bryant said at the protest. 

Amen.

Like it or not, the companies are going to be forced to take moral stances as Republicans work aggressively to confound democracy and restrict the rights of voters of color across the country. If they stand on the sidelines of this right for every U.S. citizen to determine the leadership of this country, then they will be tacitly consenting to voter suppression. 

And yes, companies asked for this fight the moment they got in the game of making major donations to individual politicians and political parties. If they can’t take the heat, they shouldn’t be in the kitchen.



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