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Today's Top News
Target Faces More Heat Over Political Donation
Randi Reitan planned to spend Friday caring for her grandchildren. But something came up: She had to lead a protest against Target Corp.
Reitan, of Eden Prairie, has become the public face in a growing controversy over a $150,000 Target political contribution. When she heard Target's money helped Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who has an anti-gay-rights record, 'I was just shocked,' she said. 'The Target I knew was the Target that embraced its gay employees.'
She began telephoning Target executives, only to be told to stop calling. So she made a protest video of her cutting up her Target credit card and vowing, "I'm going to boycott Target until they make this right." Posted on YouTube, the video has been viewed about 255,000 times.
On Friday, Reitan was outside Target headquarters in downtown Minneapolis, along with her husband, Philip, their gay son, Jacob, and a 3-foot-high stack of boxes.
"I am boycotting Target, and I have with me signatures of over 240,000 people gathered by MoveOn.org who are joining me in that boycott," Reitan told the assembled TV cameras and a small crowd.
Once inside, the protest turned more presentation than confrontation. Reitan was met in the lobby by two Target officials - but not by the man they hoped to see, Gregg Steinhafel, Target's chief executive.
Instead, Target sent a gay employee and a lesbian employee to meet the protesters: Brad Wagner, a Target diversity
consultant, and Alexis Kanter, one of the co-chairs of Target's gay and lesbian business council. The two Target officials chatted quietly with the Reitans, accepted the petitions, answered a few questions and returned upstairs.
"I had really hoped that Target would invite us up to visit with some of the executives," Reitan said afterward. "They have consumers who are very, very angry, and if I was a CEO, I would want to mend those feelings. Today they could have done that."
While Randi Reitan, 59, has strong feelings on this matter, it's clear many others do, too. Boycott critics are filling Internet message boards with hundreds of opposing views. A small sample from YouTube's message board:
For Target Corp., it leaves them precisely where they don't wish to be - directly between two angry groups and drawing scorn from both.
On Thursday, Steinhafel issued an apology, saying in a letter to employees he was "genuinely sorry" for the hard feelings the donation had caused.
He said the money was meant to strengthen pro-business policies, but some employees and customers felt it betrayed Target's longstanding commitment to gay and lesbian equality.
On Friday, Target officials again were hoping to quell the ill will. At the protest, Wagner was asked if Target would try to make amends for the donation. "We're working on that," Wagner said.
Is Target going to stop making corporate donations? "We're under a review right now," Wagner said.
A few dozen supporters, some wearing "Expect More, Shop Less" T-shirts, joined the Reitans, chanting "Stop buying elections."
One irate counterprotester came near the group and shouted, "So you take $4 million from progressives and you're not buying elections? Hypocrites!"
Reitan plans to keep up the fight on behalf of gay people such as her son.
She understands that Target may seem like an odd choice for a boycott, given its gay-friendly policies and diverse work force. But she believes the discount chain needs to set things right before moving on.
Plus, "It still bothers me that the Target executive offices did not want to hear from me," she said.