Greenfield protesters ask Home Depot to take stance on controversial voting law

  • Greenfield resident Joseph “JJ” White, left, helped organize a protest outside of Home Depot on Route 2 in Greenfield on Wednesday. Demonstrators hoped to encourage the company to support voting rights. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield resident Gary Seldon protests outside Home Depot on Route 2 in Greenfield on Wednesday, encouraging the company to support voting rights. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Al Norman talks with Joseph “JJ” White, both of Greenfield, at Home Depot on Route 2 in Greenfield on Wednesday afternoon. The two organized the demonstration to encourage the Georgia-based company to support voting rights. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Protesters outside Home Depot on Route 2 in Greenfield on Wednesday hoped to encourage the company to support voting rights. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Protesters outside Home Depot on Route 2 in Greenfield on Wednesday hoped to encourage the company to support voting rights. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 4/7/2021 5:08:19 PM

GREENFIELD — A crowd of people gathered outside the local Home Depot on Wednesday afternoon, hoping to pressure the Atlanta-based company to take a clear position on Georgia’s controversial new voting law.

The law, which was finalized on March 25, has been criticized by voting rights advocates for changes in rules that arguably make voting less accessible, particularly in communities that tend to be poor or largely non-white. President Joe Biden has compared the law to “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

Other large companies based in Georgia, notably Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, have said they oppose the law. Major League Baseball announced last week that it would not be holding its All-Star Game in Atlanta because of the new law. Home Depot, however, has not taken a clear position on it.

Greenfield resident Joseph “JJ” White sent an email last week to Home Depot’s CEO Craig Menear, saying that he is a regular customer of Greenfield’s Home Depot, and would like to see the company take a position on the new law. Menear has not emailed back, White said.

“I’ll keep checking,” White said. “I don’t think it’s in my spam.”

Christina Cornell, a spokesperson for Home Depot, emailed a statement to the Greenfield Recorder on the company’s behalf.

“We believe that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure, and support broad voter participation,” the statement reads. “We’ll continue to work to ensure our associates, both in Georgia and across the country, have the information and resources to vote.”

Cornell’s statement references how Home Depot confirmed 15,500 voter registrations among its associates for the last election through its internal Get Out the Vote initiative, and how the company matched more than 1,800 associates with opportunities to work at polling locations.

“We also donated 9,200 Plexiglas dividers across Georgia to help meet poll station safety requirements,” the statement continues. However, it does not directly address the Georgia voting law.

White and Greenfield resident Al Norman, who both helped organize Wednesday’s local demonstration, said they hope to see Home Depot support a proposed new federal law called the For the People Act, which would update rules on federal elections and supersede potentially restrictive state laws.

“This is what our democracy is based on — voter participation,” White said. “It should be made easier. The law in Georgia, while it has some very acceptable components, the whole message is that we’re going to make it more difficult for people.”

“We’re trying to give Home Depot a better course,” Norman said. “This is a way they can do something proactive.”

Others at Wednesday’s demonstration said that Home Depot, as a large company that spends money on political lobbying, had some responsibility to push for greater accessibility in voting. CNBC has reported that Home Depot has given at least $30,000 to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the lawmakers who sponsored the voting legislation.

“(Home Depot) as a corporate citizen could weigh in,” commented Mary Siano. “It could have weighed in before the law was passed.”

“Corporations hold lots of power,” agreed Ellen Kaufman. “If you influence the corporations, that’s how to influence the government.”

Responses from people driving by seemed mostly positive, according to several people at the demonstration. Some drivers shook their heads disapprovingly or made disparaging comments about the protesters’ Black Lives Matter signs. But more gave a thumbs-up or honked and waved, participants said.

“People in this county are concerned about the right of people to be able to freely vote without being intimidated or suppressed,” Norman said. “I think most people in this county don’t like what’s going on in Georgia.”

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.




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