NAACP holds public march against reports of racial profiling at local Fred Meyer, set for March 12

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Lara Rivera, News Contributor

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify there have been reports of alleged racial profiling at the local Fred Meyer. An earlier version of the story did not say these reports were alleged. 

The Linn Benton branch of the NAACP is holding a public march at the Corvallis, Ore. Fred Meyer on March 12 to support several local Black women who said they have experienced racial profiling at the store. 

The march will start at noon in Franklin Square Park and will end at the Fred Meyer on 777 NW Kings Blvd. 

The Linn Benton NAACP invites local business community members, partnering organizations, Fred Meyer patrons and “members of our community that care about all members of our community” to join them in the march. The dress code is to wear black as a sign of solidarity.

A Linn Benton NAACP press release recounted the experiences of three Black women—who did not want their names used for fear of retaliation—accusing Fred Meyer of racial profiling. 

An Albany woman said both the Corvallis and Albany Fred Meyer locations refused to take a check from her, but then cashed the same check when presented by her white husband. 

According to the press release, a Corvallis woman felt the way the Fred Meyer staff treated her depended on “how she wore her hair and whether her white mother was with her.” The woman said patrolling or monitoring happened more often when she was alone, or wore her hair in an ethnic or braided hairstyle rather than straight. 

A third woman, who was born and raised in Oregon, said she had been experiencing racial profiling at Fred Meyer locations for years.  

Upon reaching Fred Meyer at the march, the group will present a list of demands which include a timeline for action to change and add to store policies. 

“The blame rests with the administration, whose job it is to set policies that treat everyone the same, and to train their employees to steer away from racial profiling,” the NAACP press release stated. 

According to the press release, Oregon Fred Meyer locations have a history of racially profiling employees. In Portland, a former Black Fred Meyer employee filed a lawsuit in 2020 after he was fired for reporting a pattern of on-the-job racism, ranging from name-calling to wearing a hoodie when other white co-workers were able to wear hoodies without receiving any comments. In another incident, stated the press release, a Portland woman filed a lawsuit against Fred Meyer after a Portland Fred Meyer employee called her racist slurs. 

Last year, the National Labor Relations Board ruled Fred Meyer violated the law when they prohibited employees from wearing Black Lives Matter-themed buttons and masks. 

The branch lists four demands for changes to Fred Meyer, and one of them is asked to be integrated as soon as March 16. 

The first demand asks for Fred Meyer to publicly apologize to all persons who have been offended by Fred Meyer staff, and publicly commit to adopting a non-discriminatory approach to customer service on Wednesday, March 16. 

The second demand asks for a meeting between the local Fred Meyer and the Linn Benton NAACP to further discuss the issue of discrimination at the store no later than Wednedsay, April 6. 

The third demand requests for Fred Meyer to retain a local equity, diversity and inclusion consultant and/or organization to facilitate required workshops for shift managers and regional managers concerning bias, equity and inclusion no later than Wednesday, June 1. 

The last demand stated the Fred Meyer must design a customer-facing protocol for shoppers to report discrimination, provide quarterly reports of the findings to local newspapers and display the quarterly reports on the Fred Meyer website. There was no timeline included for the last demand.

“It is our hope that Fred Meyer genuinely acknowledges the centuries of harm that have caused members of our beloved community not to have positive experiences while shopping in their stores,” said the Linn Benton NAACP activist coordinator in the press release. “As an organization, our intentions are not simply to raise awareness around past and present issues of inequities that occur at Fred Meyer but to situate ourselves as collaborative partners to help provide measurable action-oriented solutions that are best practices to address inequitable business and customer service issues that are happening in our own backyard.”