CHARLOTTE, NC – A few dozen protesters gathered in the parking lot outside the Roses store on The Plaza Wednesday. They handed out flyers and held signs, encouraging shoppers to rethink their decision to shop at the North Carolina-based chain.
“We just want you to know where your dollars are going,” protesters told shoppers.
Roses is owned by Variety Wholesalers, which is owned by the Pope family. Art Pope has served as chief executive of the company, and is currently North Carolina budget director.
“He's not good for the state of North Carolina,” said Kojo Nantambu of the Charlottte NAACP.
A multi-millionaire, Pope is also widely credited with helping finance a recent republican sweep of North Carolina. Protesters complain Pope and state republicans have cut Medicaid, unemployment benefits and school funding-- issues they claim disproportionately impact poor and minority communities where many of Pope’s stores are located.
“At the same time, he hires these people, and then the people he put in office or financed to get in office are creating bills to suppress the people and make their lives even harder," said Nantambu.
Last week Pope confronted protesters in Raleigh, boasting about Variety Wholesalers diversity.
“Over one third of our employees are African-American,” he said.
Pope also defended the actions of the McCrory administration, saying its broad economic policy is helping all groups.
“We've seen a constant drop in unemployment rate in the last two years. That is helping people get jobs; that's not hurting them, that is helping them.”
The NAACP will continue the protest of Variety Wholesale stores this weekend in Winston-Salem and Fayetteville.