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Why Target Is A Corporate Bullseye For Minneapolis, Nationwide Protests

Why Target Is A Corporate Bullseye For Minneapolis, Nationwide Protests

The death of George Floyd has sparked national outrage, with protests both peaceful and violent taking place in major American cities. 

Those feelings boiled over on May 25, the day Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a police officer held Floyd down by the neck with his knee.

Among the protests over the past week, many big and small businesses have been ransacked, with busted windows, stolen inventory and some storefronts even set on fire. In the corporate world, Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) has taken center stage.

What Happened To George Floyd?

On May 25, Floyd was arrested on the south side of Minneapolis for reportedly trying to use a fake $20 bill at a local deli. Officer Derek Chauvin, flanked by three other officers, pinned Floyd down by his neck for more than 8 minutes. In smartphone video capturing the arrest, Floyd can be heard yelling "I can't breathe."

Floyd was declared dead at a local hospital shortly after arrival.

The city erupted this week and it didn't take long for things to turn ugly. Amid the mostly peaceful marches and demonstration, local stores were looted. The one that seemed to capture the most attention on social media was a local Target store.

What To Know About Target

The Target we know today launched in Minnesota in 1962, and the corporate headquarters are located in Minneapolis.

Target is one of the largest retailers in the country, with a market cap of over $62 billion. It's a shopping haven for middle-class families everywhere — that retail sweet spot between luxury and discount.

The Target store that was looted may simply be a victim of circumstance — it's located across the street from the Minneapolis Police Department’s third precinct — but it also may have a more symbolic meaning.

An Easy Bullseye?

"In 2004, Target donated $300,000 to the city’s police department to set up surveillance cameras throughout downtown Minneapolis—reportedly covering a roughly 40-block radius—as part of its SafeZone Collaborative program," AdWeek's Mónica Marie Zorrilla wrote.

"It later evolved into a nonprofit called the Downtown Improvement District, and while it no longer relies on Target’s donations, Target still supports and hosts initiatives with police (like its decade-long Heroes and Helpers program).

The store hit in Minneapolis was completely destroyed inside.

Zorrilla spoke with local residents to try to better understand Target's history with the community.

"Locals suggested the Midway location may have been targeted because it sits in what used to be St. Paul’s largest black neighborhood, Rondo, which served as a vibrant cultural and civil actions center for the Twin Cities’ African American community for over a century before it was disrupted and decimated by the construction of an interstate highway," she wrote.

"Rondo residents resisted construction efforts between 1956 and 1968, but police forcibly removed them from their homes. By the time I-94 opened, the booming mixed-income neighborhood had been fractured, displacing thousands in a discriminatory housing market."

How Is Target Responding?

Target CEO Brian Cornell released a statement this week addressing the death of Floyd, as well as the company's near-term reaction.

"We are a community in pain. That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities — it extends across America. The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We say their names and hold a too-long list of others in our hearts. As a Target team, we’ve huddled, we’ve consoled, we’ve witnessed horrific scenes similar to what’s playing out now and wept that not enough is changing. And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose."

With protests breaking out from New York to California and many cities in between, Target announced the temporary closure Sunday of six stores nationally: two in Minneapolis, one in Chicago, one in Atlanta, one in Philadelphia and one in Oakland, California. 

The company said employees impacted by these closures will be paid for up to 14 days of scheduled hours during store closures and will have the option to work at other nearby Target locations.

"It’s hard to see now, but the day will come for healing—and our team will join our hearts, hands and resources in that journey," Cornell said. 

"Even now, Target leaders are assembling community members, partners and local officials to help identify what more we can do together and what resources are required to help families, starting right here in Minnesota."

A man stands on a burned-out vehicle Thursday in the Lake Street area of Minneapolis. Photo by Lorie Shaull via Wikimedia


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