If you’re not from Boston, we have a neighborhood called Jamaica Plain that is, depending on the area in which you find yourself, alternately rich, middle class or gritty and lower class. That latter designation is as good a description as any of a store we (I live in JP) used to have called Hi-Lo. It was also dirty, smelly and not very well stocked.
The dirty, skanky Hi-Lo, whose gritty realism is being romanticized by some in Jamaica Plain.
Enter organic foods behemoth Whole Foods, which wants to replace aforementioned toilet-smelling filth hole Hi-Lo with a clean, well-stocked modern supermarket.
It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with hipster-laden JP that this proposed real estate transaction has attracted hordes of upper class white college types heavy with racial guilt and sincere-sounding platitudes about gentrification, displacement and Latino rights.
The nice folks from Whole Foods mistakenly walked into this cauldron of misplaced priorities June 2 expecting to have a rational discussion, whereas the hipsters walked in knowing what they wanted was a high profile way of expressing displeasure without really changing anyone’s mind.
Take it away Universal Hub:
With a slashing motion across his neck tonight, a Boston Police sergeant ordered Whole Foods to shut down its first Jamaica Plain community meeting early, after officers arrested two people for unfurling an anti-Whole Foods banner in the back.
As people filed out of the Curley School, police officers from across the city began arriving – the sergeant had activated the department’s Emergency Deployment Team system, used to swarm a trouble spot with police. At one point, at least a dozen Boston Police officers (one in plain clothes) stood at the top of the school’s steps guarding it against potential mayhem.
No violence actually broke out, although two women on either side of the issue had to be separated by friends when they cursed and then lunged at each other as they were leaving the auditorium.
As the meeting began around 7 p.m., the roughly 200 residents seemed evenly split between people holding up yellow signs in favor of the impending Whole Foods in Hyde Square and people holding blue signs – and many wearing blue T-shirts – in opposition.
A line of Whole Foods executives and managers sat on tall chairs at the front of the auditorium, explaining how they do business and how they hope to open in late fall.
The mostly white, mostly young anti-Fooders quickly began trying to shout down both Whole Foods managers and other residents as they screamed their opposition to what they said was the ultimate gentrifying force that would push the neighborhood’s minority residents out.
These are the kinds of meetings which make rational people feel as if they have hornets in their head.
Needless to say, nothing was settled except perhaps the Whole Foods people have learned the lesson that this is not as much about protecting Latinos as it is about one group proving its progressive bone fides.
I love hipsters. Their politics quite often jibe with my own. But sometime they are annoying and narcissistic.
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