New York Attorney General Letitia James has sent a letter to Target CEO Brian Cornell, urging the retailer to return Pride merchandise it removed following incidents in stores where people destroyed displays and products and confronted store workers.
On Wednesday, James tweeted that “Target’s decision to pull some of its pride merchandise because of backlash from anti-LGBTQ+ customers is wrong. Hatred and bigotry can't win: New York elected officials and I are urging @Target to reverse its decision and stand up for #LGTBQ+ rights.”
Target declined to comment beyond its initial statement on the Pride collection at the end of May.
Written earlier in the month, the letter asks the retailer to “consider other measures, such as enhancing security, rather than capitulating to a small group of extreme individuals’ intimidation tactics.”
The letter was co-signed by 14 New York City and state lawmakers.
James notes the need to ensure store employees’ safety, but warns that Target’s move adds to a climate where LGBTQ+ rights are increasingly under attack and hate crimes are on the rise. And it undermines the retailer’s own track record promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“Most relevant to Target, it has been fueled by commentators who have spread misleading information about Target’s Pride products and business practices to discourage your company and other businesses from engaging in Pride-related marketing campaigns,” James wrote.
The June 7 letter has no force of law or action, and James said the group recognizes Target’s right to make its own business decisions and protect its employees.
“However, this is a moment that calls for courage,” she said. “If we are to counter the anti-LGBTQ+ backlash that is rising across the nation, then we will need all allies – including those in the business community – to take a bold stand by refusing to be intimidated by extremist attacks and harassment."