A coalition of Black faith leaders in Georgia is calling for a nationwide boycott of Home Depot, arguing that the home-improvement retail giant has not strongly opposed the state’s new voting law.
What You Need To Know
- A coalition of Black faith leaders in Georgia is calling for a nationwide boycott of Home Depot, arguing that the home-improvement retail giant has not strongly and publicly opposed the state’s new voting law
- The church leaders said their boycott call comes after weeks of trying to hold conversations with companies to speak out against the law
- Home Depot said it believes all "that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure" and supports "broad voter participation"
- Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday blasted the boycott, saying it "puts partisan politics ahead of people’s paychecks"
In a statement, Bishop Reginald Jackson, who leads the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, said in a statement Tuesday the Georgia-based company has been “silent and indifferent.”
“They believe their silence is appropriate. But not on the issue of voting rights,” Jackson said. “Blacks and people of color, like others are also their customers and benefit from our dollars and the purchase of its products.”
The church leaders said their boycott call comes after weeks of trying to hold conversations with companies to speak out against the law. The coalition represents more than 1,000 churches across the state.
The Rev. Timothy McDonald III, senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church and founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, warned that the group’s pressure campaign against Home Depot could escalate.
“We’re not on your property. Today,” he said during a news conference Tuesday in Decatur, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re not blocking your driveways. Today. We’re not inside your store protesting. Today.”
Organizers said they might call for boycotts of other businesses as well.
Home Depot spokeswoman Margaret Smith said the company has helped employees register to vote, helped employees work at polling stations and provided plexiglass dividers for polling stations.
“We’ve decided that the most appropriate approach for us to take is to continue to underscore our statement that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure and support broad voter participation, and to continue to work to ensure our associates in Georgia and across the country have the information and resources to vote,” Smith said in a statement.
Home Depot is Georgia's largest company by revenue, profit and employees.
Critics say the election law, passed last month, is blatant attempt to suppress left-leaning voters, particularly Black ones, after Democrats won in Georgia in the presidential election and two U.S. Senate races, and a reaction to former President Donald Trump’s false claims about election fraud.
The law adds a photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail, cuts the amount of time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed. It also bans people from handing out food or water to voters waiting in line and allows the Republican-controlled State Election Board to remove and replace county election officials while curtailing the power of the secretary of state as Georgia’s chief elections officer.
Georgia Republicans who passed the voting legislation argue it will strengthen election security. But critics have blasted it as a blatant attempt to suppress left-leaning voters, particularly Black ones, after Democrats won in Georgia in the presidential election and two U.S. Senate races, and a reaction to former President Donald Trump’s false claims about election fraud.
Supporters say the bill was demanded by Republican voters alarmed by former President Donald Trump’s claims about fraud and makes absentee balloting more secure, provides a permanent legal basis for drop boxes and expands mandatory weekend early voting days.
Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday blasted the boycott and “cancel culture.”
“First, the left came for baseball, and now they are coming for Georgia jobs,” Kemp said, referring to Major League Baseball’s decision to move this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta over the new law. “This boycott of Home Depot — one of Georgia’s largest employers — puts partisan politics ahead of people’s paychecks.”
"This insanity needs to stop,” he added.
Boycotts in the past have aimed to pressure business leaders to push elected officials to change, but it's not clear Republicans will respond this time. Georgia lawmakers took an unsuccessful vote to strip a jet fuel tax break from Delta Air Lines after that company attacked the law. Some GOP lawmakers demanded that Coca-Cola, which provides free drinks at the state capitol, remove refrigerators from their offices. Kemp and others have repeatedly attacked Major League Baseball for removing its All-Star Game from the Atlanta Braves stadium, blaming Democrats for economic losses. Some members of Congress propose revoking the league's antitrust exemption.
Jackson acknowledged retaliation, but said that if companies stand together, “there is no way Republicans will go after them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.