Target CEO: Conservatives Upset Over Trans Merch More Dangerous To Employees Than George Floyd Riots
Brian Cornell, chief executive officer and chairman of Target Corp., listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Sarah Blesener/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Target CEO Brian Cornell deflected when he was pressed Thursday about specific Target products that generated a boycott starting in May, while suggesting blowback over transgender merch came from violent customers who threatened his employees’ safety more than the George Floyd riots.

Target, as admitted by Cornell, is still suffering from abysmal sales. Outraged shoppers took to social media back in May after discovering LGBT Pride clothing for children and a transgender “tuck-friendly” bathing suit at the popular retail chain. It was also later pieced together that a designer tied to merchandise featuring occult images and phrases such as “Satan Respects Pronouns” and “Trans Witches For Abortion,” designed some of Target’s PRIDE items.

Cornell told CNBC’s Squawk Box that the violence and looting witnessed during the George Floyd riots did not compare to the trans blowback.

“We’ve seen natural disasters, the impact of COVID, some of the violence that took place after George Floyd’s murder, but I would tell you, what I saw back in May, is the first time since I’ve been in this job where I had store members saying, ‘It’s not safe to come to work,'” the CEO claimed, adding that angry customers were engaged in “very aggressive behavior at store-level, lots of threats,” and “destroyed products.”

“They were very aggressive with our team members, personally threatening them, yelling at them,” Cornell said. “You know, they threatened to light product on fire in the store. … We’ve been celebrating heritage months, like PRIDE, for over a decade now, we’ve never seen this kind of response.”

Seemingly running in contrast with Cornell’s assertion, stores in at least five states received bomb threats via email from an individual/individuals angry the retail chain “betrayed the LGBTQ+ community” by removing the merchandise, The Hill reported.

Cornell suggested he had to pull the controversial merch from stores, not because of the devastating financial repercussions from the massive boycott, but for employee safety. “We had to prioritize the safety of the team,” he said.

The CEO further seemed to deny some of the transgender items and association with the controversial PRIDE designer when pressed by CNBC.

“People said, ‘Look, there are bathing suits that are transgender bathing suits that are being targeted and marketed to kids,'” host Rebecca Quick told Cornell. “‘There is a guy who you’re working with, a designer, who, I don’t know, is a devil worshipper or something.’ What would you say back to some of those criticisms?”

“I think, you and I both know, those weren’t true,” the CEO claimed. “But, in the moment, we said, the best thing for us to do is address the issue — we can’t combat each and every statement that’s made. And do the right thing for our team, take the learning as we move forward.”


Related: Investor Sues Target Over ‘Disastrous’ 2023 Pride Campaign After Company Loses Billions In Market Value

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