EUGENE, Ore.-- Protesters gathered outside of Market of Choice on Willamette Street and 29th Avenue for a pro Black Lives Matter protest on Monday.
Employees at various locations across Oregon have walked out of the stores after being told to take off masks that had “Black Lives Matter” on them.
The protest is set to take place from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Morning Glory Ritchie, cashier at Market of Choice, said that she demands to have the opportunity to support the Black Lives Matter movement even while working.
“I have spoken to management many times,” Ritchie said. “They said that people are not allowed to wear these Black Lives Matter masks because they disrupt a comfortable customer experience. They also said that it would endanger employees. With that logic, I would say that is confusing."
Ritchie said that the time is now for getting uncomfortable and standing up for what's right.
“If we are not being uncomfortable right now, then we are sitting in our white privilege," Ritchie said. "I refuse to sit on my white privilege, and I demand to support Black Lives Matter and I demand to be an ally.”
One frequent shopper even said this will change the way she shops.
“I wont shop here as long as the policy of not allowing employees to wear masks with Black Lives Matter on it continues,” Eugene resident Nina Sobotka said.
Market of Choice did release a statement to KEZI saying: “At Market of Choice, we support our Black Community, Vendors and Employees. Not allowing employees to wear a Black Lives Matter mask is simply a dress code issue, similar to most other retailers. No one has been terminated for wearing a Black Lives Matter mask, despite reports to the contrary.”
They went on to say that several changes have been made within the corporation, such as meeting with almost all 1,300 team members to discuss how the company can best support communities of color.
Market of Choice is also increasing representation on their Equity and Inclusion Committee and expanding their outreach of BIPOC team members.
A petition is circulating online in support of wearing the masks, and at last check, it has over 3,800 signatures.