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Target CEO slams ‘heartbreaking’ threats that led to some Pride products being pulled

The senior Target executive hammered home the aggressive behavior some customers have directed at employees due to the retailer’s collection of LGBTQ-themed merchandise.

The company has removed some items from its collection for June’s Pride month, which honors lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, saying a wave of threats has put workers at risk. The decision followed “many difficult days of deliberation and decision-making,” chief executive Brian Cornell said in an internal memo.

“What you have seen over the past few days goes far beyond discomfort, and it has been heartbreaking to see what you have faced in our aisles,” Cornell told store employees in the memo, which was sent on Wednesday and viewed by Bloomberg. . He also thanked the service center staff for their “patience and professionalism in the face of a high volume of angry, abusive and threatening calls”.

Fueled by America’s culture wars, the imbroglio consumed Target this week, with some critics blasting the company for its Pride Month collection while others slammed it for bowing to bullying in stores and on social media. social. Cornell said he tried to chart a course between Pride Month recognition and changes to put safety first.

“For the LGBTQIA+ community, one of the hardest parts of all of this has been trying to consider how the adjustments we’re making to mitigate these threats to our team’s physical and psychological safety would impact you. , your well-being and your psychological safety,” he said. in the memo, which was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

Target did not specify which merchandise it is removing. But a few products have generated the bulk of the anger online.

Some were swimsuits designed for those who identify as transgender with a “friendly” crotch and “slightly constricting” chest construction, which several social media users – including some prominent politicians – have erroneously said they were for children. But those items were still available online Thursday and were part of Pride displays outside Nicollet Mall and Minneapolis Quarry stores on Wednesday.

Other clothes and accessories came from British brand Abprallen, which critics have accused of expressing “satanic” views in its designs. On the brand’s website, the designer – who identifies as a gay and trans man – explained that he juxtaposes the use of pastels with “images of skulls and scary things”, an interest he wore since childhood because “there is something magical about the unknown, the scary and mystical.”

These products are no longer on the Target website. Only one of the designer’s items – a pink fanny pack with a space theme saying “We belong everywhere” – was still on the shelves at Minneapolis Quarry and Richfield stores.

The target fell 2.8% at 2:43 p.m. in New York, on track for its sixth consecutive decline, the worst streak in five months.

startribune Gt Itly

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