Lowe’s scandal draws protesters

Photo by Daniel Heraty

A group of demonstrators gathers Dec. 17 near Lowe’s Home Improvement, 23111 Outer Drive, to protest the home improvement retailer’s Dec. 11 decision to remove ads from Dearborn-based TLC reality series “All-American Muslim.”

Times-Herald Newspapers

ALLEN PARK – In response to Lowe’s Home Improvement’s decision to pull ads from TLC’s Dearborn-based reality show “All-American Muslim,” protesters comprising religious leaders, elected officials and residents demonstrated outside the retailer’s Allen Park location Dec. 17.

The protest was organized by the African American Ministers Leadership Council and the Highland Park chapter of the NAACP. About 100 people stood outside the store, chanting “Boycott Lowe’s” and singing “We Shall Overcome.”

One of the organizers, the Rev. Charles Williams of the AAMLC, said the protesters were not spreading a message of hate, but a message of love and inclusion for Americans of all faiths, adding, “We are all Americans.”

Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Dawud Walid, who attended the protest, said the demonstration was about people coming together and standing up for what is right against those who seek to marginalize minorities.

Dearborn resident Nouhad El-Hajj said the protest was not about the company’s decision to remove the ads, but about their decision to give in to the request of Florida Family Association.. The retailer announced Dec. 11 that it would pull the ads from the show after receiving emails from the Florida-basedconservative Christian group, who asked them to remove the ads.

“The company has the freedom to do whatever it wants, but it should listen to the truth,” El-Hajj said.
“Real religion does not hate others.”

Ypsilanti resident Emily Vandegriff said the protest was a good idea and hopes the demonstration shows people’s equality, adding that she hopes Lowe’s apologizes and reconsiders their decision.

“There’s no reason for anyone to promote hatred,” she said. “For Lowe’s to pull their ads from the show is just ridiculous.”

A smaller group of counter protesters supported Lowe’s decision, saying the company has the right to remove the ads if they choose. Clarkston resident Pat Jackson said she drove to Allen Park in support of the company’s right to spend advertising money however they want.

“I don’t care if I live 40 miles away,” she said. “Somebody needs to say, ‘What? We’re extremists because we support the right of a corporation to choose where they spend their money to advertise?’ That’s insane.”

Allen Park resident Bob Richard agreed.

“I think Lowe’s has the right to spend their money any way they like,” he said. “If they don’t feel that they were getting their money’s worth, they have the right to withdraw that ad.”

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)