Letter: Whole Foods debate should not be silenced

Heartfelt thanks to the editor of the JP Gazette for the editorial in the June 10 issue (“Whole Foods arrests a bad sign of the times”).

We attended the June 2 Whole Foods meeting and were immediately surprised at the heavy police presence. We watched as the Whole Foods management team put on their slick PowerPoint presentation, arrogantly ignoring that the community had been hotly debating their planned arrival since January. This added to the insult of postponing any public meeting until June 2.

But more insulting was the use of Boston police, hired by Whole Foods, who intimidated dissenters, arrested peaceful protesters and finally shut down the meeting.

No one thinks that Whole Foods’ arrival will decrease property values or increase diversity. The question is, what kind of neighborhood do we want to live in: One where we value and protect the small amounts of remaining affordable housing and cultural diversity, or one where personal convenience and economic self-interest come first? Vigorous discussion about these issues is essential to a healthy democracy.

One more question: Do we want to live in a country where a corporation can underwrite the silencing of public debate?

Laura Foner and David J. Weinstein

Jamaica Plain

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