Joe Hutchison, Daily Mail, February 1, 2024
Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley has condemned Walgreens for ‘racial and economic discrimination’ after closing a pharmacy in Boston.
Pressley, a member of the ultra-progressive ‘Squad’, said the chain was ‘abandoning’ low-income communities with the most recent closing in Roxbury on Wednesday.
Walgreens announced the closure of several stores nationwide due to what the company has described as ‘rampant theft’ in some areas.
Pressley said this decision targets areas with significant minority populations, calling for the company to reconsider their decision instead.
In a speech addressing the house, she said: ‘This closure is a part of a larger trend of abandoning low-income communities like the previous closures in Mattapan and Hyde Park, both in the Massachusetts 7th.
‘When a Walgreens leaves a neighborhood, they disrupt the entire community and they take with them baby formula, diapers, asthma inhalers, life-saving medications, and, of course, jobs.
‘These closures are not arbitrary and they are not innocent. They are life-threatening acts of racial and economic discrimination. That is why I joined with Senators Markey and Warren to demand answers from Walgreens’ CEO.
‘Why was there no community input? No adequate notice to customers? And no transition resources to prevent gaps in health care? Shame on you, Walgreens.
‘Having a website with talking points about health equity and underserved communities is not enough. Walgreens is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that needs to put their money where their mouth is and stop divesting from black and brown communities.’
Walgreens, which has been one of the chains hit hardest by retail theft, announced its intentions to close roughly 200 stores across the nation last year.
The Walgreens that Pressley had been referring to was the fourth one in Boston to close in a little over a year, according to Boston25 News.
In order to help ease the transition, Walgreens said they would automatically transfer patient files and prescriptions to a Walgreens one mile away.
The company said changing factors including the dynamics of the local market and a change in buying habits are factors taken into account when closing a branch.
Opponents of the closure tried for weeks to convince the company to reconsider its decision but were unsuccessful, and the location closed on Wednesday.
The pharmacy chain has had to close stores across the country, with an emphasis specifically on the city of San Francisco as it grapples with high crime.
Last July, footage emerged of a Walgreens that had to resort to chaining freezers shut to stop shoplifters.
Video shot by one potential shopper at a local Walgreens in the city sees aisle after aisle of products locked away behind Perspex and glass, out of the reach of thieves.
At one particular location the freezer doors are entirely chained up, with staff concerned thieves will come into the store overnight to empty the contents.
The problem of such wanton theft is not unique to San Francisco; other big cities across the nation including in New York have also been dealing with the problem over the last few years.
In some cases it has left pharmacy chains no option but to leave areas completely as the massive thefts hurt the bottom line.
Pressley and other squad members like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib incepted the so-called progressive ‘squad’ of lawmakers when they took office after the 2018 midterms.
They are frequent targets of Republicans who claim they are trying to stoke racial divides by highlighting differences between white people and minority communities.
In August of last year, Pressley made headlines after Vivek Ramaswamy accused her and an anti-racist author as being part of the ‘modern KKK’.
Pressley hit back at the former Republican nominee and said he had ‘verbally assaulted’ over his remarks.