Police cut meeting short
Three protesters were arrested at Whole Food’s first face-to-face conversation with Jamaica Plain residents June 2. The meeting was abruptly ended by police after an action-packed hour, filled with protest chants, impassioned comments and a banner-drop.
In a presentation at the beginning of the meeting, Whole Foods officials announced that they signed a long-term lease with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to rent parking spaces to supplement their 70-space lot at 415 Centre St. They also announced that they plan to redesign the bus stop in front of the store on Centre St.
Andrew Murray and Chloe Frankel were arrested early in the meeting after unfurling a banner from the balcony of the Curley School auditorium that read, “Displacement, what is Whole Foods going to do about it?”
Peter Blailock was arrested after police stopped another group of activists from unfurling another banner in an aisle of the auditorium.
The second banner unfurling was oddly timed, coming as Martha Rodriguez, an activist with the local, anti-Whole Foods group the Whose Foods? Coalition, was asking Whole Foods officials if they had a plan to deal with displacement. Anti-Whole foods activists’ fear that the stores move to the neighborhood will cause a rise in property values and displace low-income residents.
Whole Foods Regional Vice President of Operations Jim Hughes started to answer that question, beginning by saying it is “complicated.” But police immediately ended the meeting, and Hughes said only that Whole Foods would meet with the community again.
The police presence at the meeting was much larger than at similarly sized meetings at the Curley School, and there was a large police presence, including a line of police blocking the school’s front doors, after it let out.
About 40 anti-Whole Foods activists went to the E-13 police station after the meeting and picketed. Murray, Frankel and Blailock were released at around 9:30 p.m., having been summonsed to West Roxbury District Court on minor charges.
In the first public comments made at the meeting, Claudio Martinez, head of the Hyde Square Task Force, told Whole Foods officials the Curley School at 493 Centre St. was the wrong place to hold the meeting.
“The store is going to be located in Hyde/Jackson [Square], not in the neighborhood you are in today,” he said.