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Visiting Augusta, Black church leader expects boycott after ‘disappointing’ talk with CEOs

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 8:43 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia faith leaders held a virtual summit with corporate leaders over the Peach State’s new voting law.

African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Reginald Jackson led the virtual meeting Tuesday afternoon from right here in Augusta.

The law introduces stiffer voter identification requirements for absentee balloting, limits drop boxes and gives the Georgia Election Board new powers to intervene in county election offices and to remove and replace local election officials.

Jackson said although the meeting was cordial, he was disappointed that many companies that were invited did not participate.

“Disappointing is an understatement,” Jackson told News 12.

He says he was able to sit down with Coca-Cola, but other companies who were invited to talk, like Home Depot, did not participate.

He said while participants didn’t come out and say they were opposed to principles set forth by faith leaders, he was alarmed by some of the terminology used be corporate leaders.

He said some of that terminology included talk of election “security.”

He said it’s fraudulent to state that elections are not secure.

“The term that they kept using security raises alarm bells for us, and it’s almost the language you would expect to hear from the sponsors of this legislation,” Jackson said.

He said the meeting lasted for about an hour.

“I strongly suspect that we will agree that there will be a boycott” against companies that don’t support efforts to roll back the measures in the law, Jackson said.

“We cannot continue to give our dollars and buy products from companies that do not support us in our effort to have free elections,” he said.

He said faith leaders expect to announce around midday Friday which companies will be boycotted.

He said faith leaders gave the companies a deadline of Friday to get back to them about their stance on the law.

“We intend to get national support for this boycott because the effort to suppress votes is a nationwide campaign. Therefore, our boycott must be a nationwide campaign,” he said.

Jackson earlier had called for a boycott of Georgia-based companies Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, saying they had not done enough to keep the voting law from being passed. They then spoke up against the law.

He those boycott plans were put on hold until after Tuesday’s Zoom call.

“This is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” Jackson said.

“The right to vote should not be partisan.”

He said faith leaders expect companies to act on the basis of their values.

“If they remain quiet on this,” he said, “then that signals complicity.”

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