The Times-Picayune in New Orleans that Donald Rouse Sr., the co-owner of Louisiana-based Rouse's Markets, is facing criticism and boycotts "after a photo surfaced on Facebook showing him and his former human resources director in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to derail a congressional vote certifying the election of Joe Biden."
According to the story, "The ex-HR director, Steve Galtier, publicly posted the photo on his Facebook page. It showed him and Rouse, clad in facemasks and baseball caps, in a park where Trump supporters gathered near the White House … The pair were not pictured inside the Capitol, where armed rioters scaled walls, broke windows, and occupied the legislative chambers in the first breach of the building since the War of 1812."
It didn't seem to matter, the Times-Picayune writes: "The backlash against Rouse was immediate and intense, generating more than 4,700 posts on Twitter alone. Many social media users began circulating screenshots of the photos while imploring Louisiana residents to stop shopping at his grocery stores."
The story says that "the Carnival organization the Krewe of Red Beans, which marches on Lundi Gras and has been hiring young musicians and artists to deliver groceries to their older counterparts, said it would return $20,000 it had received from the chain and intended to stop shopping at Rouses.
"The state chapter of the NAACP also said it is ending its relationship with Rouses, which has been a longtime supporter, especially of its Houma/Terrebonne branch. "
In a statement, Rouse said that he left the rally before violence broke out at the Capitol: "I ... was shocked and saddened to see it unfold on TV," he said. "I condemn the actions of those who unlawfully entered and damaged our hallowed institutions and threatened our public servants."
Rouse also said that "violence and destruction do not represent our country's values, or the values of Rouses. Our country desperately needs to come together to heal, and I will do everything I can to be a part of that process." Rouse pointed out that he no longer is involved with the company's operations on a day-to-day basis.
The controversy went beyond Rouses, the Times-Picayune writes, when some people on social media "began offering up the local grocery chain Breaux Mart as an alternative to Rouses. Then some started circulating screenshots of a post from an account under the name of Breaux Mart co-owner Barry Breaux which prayed for Trump’s 'enemies to stumble & fall into confusion & panic'."
Which prompted the retailer to issue a statement saying that "one person's opinions do not collectively reflect the views of ... employees/management."
- KC's View:
The argument that Breaux Mart is making is a little harder to swallow when the guy making his opinions known has his name on the front door. Just saying.
As for Donald Rouse, I have no idea if he joined the mob that invaded the Capitol last week. I'm willing to take him at his word, but he'd better hope that no video shows up that contradicts that position. If so, potential boycotts will be the least of his problem - he's likely to end up being visited by the FBI.
Not only are we seeing stories from all over the country about people being arrested for being part of an invasion of the Capitol last week that is being widely described as seditious and insurrectionist, but we're also seeing stories about companies firing people who have been identified as being part of the mob. (Ironically, many of these people have identified themselves - they went on social media and bragged about their behavior, often with pictures. Members of the bozo fringe group QAnon, who made up some of the mob, apparently are not very good at staying anon.)
Taking political positions is one thing. Protesting is one thing. Civil disobedience is one thing. I get it - I'm a child of the late sixties and early seventies. But what we saw last week was something else … and I suspect the repercussions will be felt for years.
We're already seeing it in the business community. For example, the Washington Post reports that companies such as Marriott and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association have said that they will halt all campaign contributions to any lawmaker who "voted against certifying the electoral college results of President-elect Joe Biden’s win," believing that such votes were aimed a undermining US democracy.
Some major US banks, such as Citigroup, have said they are suspending all PAC donations to Republicans and Democrats for the foreseeable future, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"The violence at the Capitol appears to have companies scrambling to figure out how to react," the Post writes, "as they increasingly realize that this is not an ordinary political dispute and the option of sitting on the sidelines grows increasingly unsatisfying."
Which, it seems, is where companies like Rouses now find themselves, regardless of their executives' intentions.