The national fight over how political campaigns are financed came to Fort Greene last Tuesday as community activists rallied at the Atlantic Terminal Target to protest the retail company’s $150,000 donation to an anti-gay rights gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota.
It was one of 100 rallies around the country that called for the end of unrestricted corporate spending on elections, which was made legal in a January Supreme Court ruling.
“I think Target will listen to large numbers of people across the country who are against companies funding political candidates,” said Shawn Marie Walsh, a Bed-Stuy resident who helped organize the rally.
Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio and Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) encouraged the participants in the protest, which was on Flatbush Avenue, to phone Target’s headquarters and demand that the company stop dishing out dough to political candidates.
Target, the second-largest discount retailer in the country, has underwritten ads for Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican who opposes gay marriage. Many of the protesters — good Brooklyn liberals, all! — said support for a possible homophobe who is also “pro-gun, pro-life and pro-Arizona immigration law,” in the words of one person at the rally, makes them reluctant to support Target (even with its great back-to-school prices).
“Target’s treasury is financing a candidate who is everything New Yorkers are not,” DeBlasio said.
But DeBlasio also complained of the larger issue — how corporations can now legally make contributions into the political system thanks to the supreme court ruling.
“I am sure many New Yorkers and consumers will join me in demanding that Target pledge to not spend another dime in our elections.”