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As holidays approach, faith and civil leaders launch boycott of businesses in St. Louis

The Rev. Dinah Tatman and faith leaders speak in support of the economic boycott on Nov. 2, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio
The Rev. Dinah Tatman and faith leaders speak in support of the economic boycott.

As protests over the Jason Stockley verdict continue in St. Louis, the persistent chant of “no justice, no profits ” can be heard. Now, that credo is being put into action.

Community activists are using the upcoming holiday season as an opportunity to launch an economic boycott campaign from “any entities that do not respect us or our purchasing power” said the Rev. Dinah Tatman, CEO and founder of Greater New Vision Ministries Inc. in St. Louis.

Tatman is leading the effort, along with other faith, business, and civic leaders, to cause an economic impact on the region. They are asking their members of their congregations to boycott certain businesses in order to bring about positive changes for African-Americans.

Event organizers distribute boycott fliers to discourage holiday shopping on Nov. 2, 2017.
Credit Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio
Event organizers distribute boycott fliers to discourage holiday shopping.

On Thursday, activists began distributing door hangers on homes around to discourage residents from participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Activists say African-Americans are disproportionately adversely affected socially and economically in St. Louis and they need to use their wallets to bring attention to issues like abuses by police and over-criminalization.

Tatman said the boycott is an extension of the ongoing protests. She said that along, “with those who are protesting physically with their feet, we are also protesting with our dollars.”

The campaign targets businesses including US Bank, Burger King, Shell, and Schnucks. They say many of these businesses have a history of discriminating against African-Americans.

Also included on the list is the Galleria Mall where police officers arrested 22 protesters on Sept. 23.

Instead of shopping at the businesses on the boycott list, organizers have compiled a list of black-owned banks, businesses, and websites they hope the public will support. 

“We have to take charge of our own communities,” said Ronald Bobo, senior pastor of the Westside Missionary Baptist Church.

Bobo encouraged African-Americans to present a united front in order to change their economic position. He said the businesses that the boycott targets have taken their community for granted and now is the time to motivate change among the business community.

Though organizers realize that such a boycott could impact businesses that employ African-Americans, they believe their overall goal will outweigh any short-term negative implications.

“Sometimes we have to make sacrifices,” said Minister Donald Muhammad of the Muhammad Mosque 28 in St. Louis.

Muhammed believes the economic boycott will bring city leaders together to create needed policy changes that will improve the lives of African-Americans in the region.

Protests have continued in St. Louis since Sept. 15, when St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found former city police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the first-degree murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter: @ChelSeaport