Georgia churches call for Home Depot boycott over voting rights stance

Sam Levine in New York
·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Georgia religious leaders on Tuesday called for a boycott of Home Depot over the company’s refusal to speak out against a new law restricting voting access in the state.

The move from officials, representing more than 1,000 churches in Georgia, underscores how activists continue to target companies in Georgia to use their considerable political influence to protect the right to vote. Georgia-based Coca-Cola, another boycott target, as well as Delta Air Lines came out forcefully against the restrictions, though only after they were signed into law.

The faith leaders said in a statement they were targeting Home Depot after representatives from the company declined to attend a summit of corporate and church officials recently. Home Depot has declined to specifically oppose the Georgia law and even went out of its way, when the law was pending in the legislature, to tell the Washington Post it did not oppose the measure.

Related: Companies talk the talk on Georgia voting rights but how will they act?

“We don’t think we ought to let their indifference stand,” Bishop Reginald Jackson, presiding prelate of the sixth district of the AME church, which includes more than 500 Black churches in Georgia, said at a press conference outside a Home Depot in Decatur on Tuesday.

Sara Gorman, a Home Depot spokesperson, declined to comment on the boycott call specifically. “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,” she said in a statement.

Republicans pounced on the new boycott call to accuse Democrats of trying to hurt the state. Some Republicans see an opening to use backlash against businesses as a way of motivating supporters. They have been increasingly aggressive about that approach after Major League Baseball decided to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia over concerns about the new law.

“This is how it goes: agree with every piece of the left’s agenda, or get canceled. First, they came for a ball game. Now, they’re coming for Georgia jobs,” Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, said in a Facebook post.

Not all voting rights advocates have embraced the idea of boycotting companies in Georgia. Stacey Abrams, the Democratic voting rights leader who is widely expected to launch a gubernatorial bid for 2022, has stopped short of endorsing the practice, telling the Associated Press they ultimately hurt “the victims of these bills”.

Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, also responded to MLB’s decision to move the All-Star Game by saying: “It is my hope that businesses, athletes and entertainers can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on, and hand-in-hand with the community.”

“I can’t fully support a boycott within Georgia,” Aunna Dennis, the executive director of the Georgia chapter of Common Cause, a watchdog group, told the New York Times. “The boycott hurts the working-class person. But corporations do need to be held accountable on where they put their dollars.”