Walgreens shut down three stores in Boston within a week causing a massive outcry of systemic racism as the company blamed the “dynamics of the local market and changes in the buying habits of our patients.”
(Video Credit: WCVB Channel 5 Boston)
The abrupt decision was evidently a financial one but residents and city council members are screaming foul over it. Complaints reportedly flooded the Boston city council from local residents.
Following that development, the city attempted to bully Walgreens into keeping the stores open. Two members of the Boston City Council filed a resolution that seeks to block Walgreens from opening any new locations in the city anywhere unless they keep those three stores open.
“We can use whatever leverage we have, which is our zoning code, and leverage that to get them to make sure they come back to the table,” city council member Brian Worrell threatened according to WBZ-TV. He was the one who authored the resolution and he filed it with fellow council member Fernandes Anderson.
The city council sent the threat via letter complete with outrageous demands to Walgreens’ headquarters.
City council member Tania Fernandes Anderson said in a statement, “For too long, corporate businesses have treated black, brown, and working-class communities essentially as though we are second-class citizens, and what is occurring here seems to be a present-day manifestation of the embedded economic inequality that we still suffer from.”
Walgreens closing facilities across Boston was done without studies on impacts or giving enough notice to its customers.
— Brian Worrell (@VoteWorrell) November 11, 2022
This seems like a good way to get Walgreens to close all of their Boston stores https://t.co/cedJvY7JNv
— Crosswalkcrusader (@crosswalkcru) November 9, 2022
“You’re making money in communities of lower socioeconomic class and … you are profiting and making a huge profit margin,” Anderson stated on Wednesday, according to Boston.com, adding that councilors must “really hold them accountable.”
Closing these stores is “not OK,” she asserted. “We have a lot of elderly senior homes in Nubian Square, in and around Roxbury, Mattapan, and everyone is just devastated and not knowing what the solution will be.”
“I think it’s reprehensible that a major corporation is actively telling a broad swath of people ‘too bad, so sad’ when it comes to their health and wellness and putting their profits first,” Councilor Gabriela Coletta charged.
It appears that the city council has no concept of a business needing to turn a profit to stay open or how crime is actually impacting their city.
Worrell asserted that Walgreens should operate to provide a public service, profits be damned, “We are talking about predominantly working-class black and brown communities that relied on Walgreens for many, many years. Now we are stripping a major resource away from them. We are talking about places where communities have got their food, their medication, their COVID vaccines.”
Walgreens decided to close three locations in Boston this week. Now the city is accusing the company of systemic racism and threatening consequences if the stores don't reopen
— DaneG (@Dane__Garcia) November 12, 2022
A spokesperson for the company spoke with WBZ-TV in an interview, stating that the company is reviewing the council’s threats and preparing a response.
“We’re actually here because we just picked up our last prescription,” a customer named Bridget Schley told WCVB5. “There was always people here. It’s never quiet. It’s unfortunate that they’ve decided to get rid of something that so many people here in Mattapan and in Milton use.”
“I’m very sorry not to be able to come down here and get our prescriptions. We’ve been coming here for 22 years,” another customer named Leigh Hutchinson remarked. “I’d like to know why. I don’t think anybody knows, even the people working in the store, why this is closing. That’s a little frustrating.”
“I think it’s sad. This was a convenient Walgreens for us,” said Thyina Sullivan who is a customer as well. “I walk here. I live right on River Street. It’s super close. It’s walking distance.”
Go figure. Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the crime. Hang on. I think it’s going to get worse.
— armymom0718 (@armymom7186) November 12, 2022
In a statement, a Walgreens spokesperson said the company is focused on best meeting the needs of patients and customers by creating “the right network of stores in the right locations.”
“When faced with the difficult task of closing a particular location, several factors are taken into account, including things like the dynamics of the local market and changes in the buying habits of our patients and customers, for example,” the statement contended.
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