By SoCal SCLC
[Editor’s Note: Detroit knows about “food deserts.” The 26th largest city in the United States with a population of over 664,000, Detroit saw its last major chain supermarket close in 2007. Kroger has many supermarkets in the Detroit suburbs. In 2019 Kroger announced it would invest $97 million in two new stores and remodelling 11 stores in Michigan. It currently has no stores in Detroit and none of the new investment will be inside the city-limits.]
After three demonstrations and a fourth action that included a loud car caravan from the South L.A. Ralph’s Supermarket to the East Hollywood Food 4 Less, organizers that oppose the closing of 3 supermarkets in Los Angeles are taking a next step – legal action. The historic Civil Rights organization that was led by Martin Luther King – the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) – has played a leading role and will be the plaintiff in this call for the courts to put a halt to Kroger’s damaging plans.
Asking the courts for an injunction to stop Kroger’s closing of the supermarkets sends a signal to the largest grocery chain in the nation. Said Pastor Smart of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, “This store, slated to be closed, would create a food desert in this area. They are lying about this store not being profitable. The people need this store, the community needs this store. Where do they go for food? People have to eat. They are disrespecting our community when they say they want to close this store. South LA needs every single grocery store.”
Kroger’s CEO makes $21-million per year. Their sales were more than $120-billion during the year of the pandemic – up from 2019. Their profit was $2.8-billion. Yet, Kroger spokespersons justify the planned closures by crying poverty. They claim that abiding by an ordinance put in place by the City of Los Angeles that mandated hazard pay of an additional $5 per hour would cost $20-million. The workers who will lose their jobs if Kroger’s tirade is permitted, risked – and continue to risk – their health and that of their families so that Los Angeles could continue getting food and supplies during the Covid-19 crisis. Instead of paying grocery workers the well-deserved hazard pay, Kroger resorted to a corporate tantrum that would inflict great harm to the South L.A. community and to hundreds of workers around Los Angeles.
The coalition of organizations consist of the following: Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of SoCal, UFCW Local 770, Baptist Ministers Conference of SoCal, Black Workers Center Los Angeles, Ground Game L.A., SEIU Local 721, Union del Barrio, United Workers Assembly, Families of Park Mesa Heights, Harvard Boulevard Block Club, Hyde Park Organizational Partnership for Empowerment (HOPE).