A Walmart in Providence, Rhode Island is under scrutiny after it decided to put a Black man in a cage in the middle of the store to raise money for children.
According to the Providence Journal, Walmart was conducting a Hasbro Children’s Miracle Network fundraiser and decided to put a Black employee in a makeshift cage with a sign reading, “I’m in jail!!! I need bail!!! Help me raise $50 to get out!!” The sign also read, “All donations going to Hasbro Children’s Miracle Network.”
After going viral on social media, the photo drew criticism from community organizers and citizens alike.
Rhode Island Foundation’s Equity Leadership Initiative member Angela Boateng also shared a photo of the racist display, writing she was “perplexed” by the fundraiser.
“As I was exiting that Walmart on Silver Spring, I noticed this cage, and I felt like I saw somebody and I went closer … and I’m like, is there a young male in the cage?” Boateng told the Journal. “I just did not understand what was happening, but I was mortified. And as I went closer to read what was on the cage, I don’t know really what came over me. I was just deeply offended.”
Boateng was also concerned that the display was used during the same month as Juneteenth.
Walmart and Hasbro [Hospital] need to acknowledge their actions,” Boateng said. “They need to apologize and let the community know what active steps they’re taking to ensure this doesn’t happen again. And I think that they just need to come public with it.”
The Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Political Action Committee has also demanded that Walmart take accountability for the fundraiser.
“Walmart must actively demonstrate its commitment to fostering an inclusive and respectful workplace culture by engaging in meaningful dialogue with community leaders, activists, and organizations dedicated to combating racial disparities, the PAC said in a statement. “Implementing comprehensive diversity and sensitivity training programs for all employees is crucial in this process.”
Joe Pennington, a Walmart Corporation spokesman, confirmed to the Journal that the location was participating in an annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraiser, but what the store did in Providence was against store policy.
“The ‘jail’ fundraiser goes against company policy and should never be used,” Pennington said. “We are reinforcing this with our stores in the area, and this display has been removed from our Providence location.”
Sarah Lyons, a spokeswoman for Lifespan Health System claims the company didn’t know about the fundraiser.
“As a partner of the Children’s Miracle Network, Walmart has been a great supporter and partner of Hasbro Children’s Hospital and we are very appreciative,” Lyons told the Journal.
“We were not aware of this particular fundraiser held as part of the Children’s Miracle Network campaign and have spoken with both the Children’s Miracle Network and the local store about fundraising alternatives moving forward.”
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