Congressman Bobby Rush on Monday, November 12, threatened to lead a boycott against Target during a protest outside a Target store in the West Loop. Rush demanded the retailer rescind its decision to close two stores on the South Side on February 2 next year. If the retailer refuses his demands, Rush said he will urge a boycott against Target on Black Friday.
The demonstration was held outside of the Target at Roosevelt and Clark, where some shoppers used their day off from the Veterans Day holiday to comb the store’s aisles for the latest deals. Behind the building and out of view, Rush and about 25 protesters, held a demonstration, hoping to persuade Target to keep its stores in Chatham and Morgan Park open. Target two weeks ago said the stores are among six nationwide that are “underperforming.” But Rush and many residents say those stores were always busy. They also said they fought to get Target to build those stores in underserved neighborhoods that have suffered from business disinvestment. Many are skeptical of Target’s explanation in light of the retailer’s plan to open two new stores on the North Side in the next two years.
“The fight continues,” Rush said. “We’re fighting for the quality of our community life. And because Target made this cavalier decision without discussing it with the community and without the community knowing about it. We’re not taking it anymore. We are demanding that Target rescind their decision. We’re demanding that these stores stay open. This is just the beginning.”
With an army of Chicago police officers standing by, protesters shouted, “Take back the TIF, Take back the TIF.”
Rush said if Target does not rescind its decision to close its South Side stores, he will lead a boycott of the retailer on Black Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year–the day after Thanksgiving. Rush said there will also be another protest at the Target at Roosevelt and Clark and at the Target store at State and Madison in The Loop.
“We’re not playing any games,” Rush said. “We’re serious about this issue. We’re serious about maintaining a decent quality of life in our community.”
There were no Black aldermen at the protest although the stores in Chatham and Morgan Park are located in Ald. Roderick Sawyer and Ald. Carrie Austin’s respective wards. Attorney Gery Chico was the only mayoral candidate who attended the demonstration.
Austin did attend a community Town Hall meeting last Thursday at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, where business leaders expressed concerns about Target’s decision. Many say the closures will affect smaller businesses in the neighborhoods and cause property values to decrease.
Rush said Target’s executive leaders will meet with community residents at 3 p.m. this Thursday, November 15 at New Covenant Baptist Church to hear resident’s concerns. Despite the public outcry, Target has stood by its decision to close its stores in Chatham and Morgan Park. Rush urges residents to attend the meeting on Thursday.
”Target says these stores are low-performing,” he said at Monday’s protest. “That’s like blaming the victim. Every time I come there, the parking lots are full, the lines are long. If you go in those stores, the shelves are half empty. They need to get their management system in order. It’s not the fault of the community, it’s their (Target) fault. We’re mad. We’re angry, we’re upset and we’re not taking it anymore.”