U.S. Rep, Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) blamed the closing of a Walgreens in Boston’s Roxbury section on racism while speaking on the House floor Tuesday.
The pharmacy’s closure was met with protests earlier this month after it became the fourth location in the area to close since 2022. Those opposed to the closure claimed the area is becoming a “pharmacy desert,” meaning that communities of color will not have access to quality pharmacies.
Walgreens has cited changes in the market and buying habits of customers as factors in their decision. Still, the decision to close another location has been met with criticism from far-left lawmakers, including Pressley.
“This closure is a part of a larger trend of abandoning low-income communities like the previous closures in Mattapan and Hyde Park, both in the Massachusetts 7th,” Pressley said on the House floor Tuesday, noting that the community is more than 85 percent black or Latino. “When a Walgreens leaves a neighborhood, they disrupt the entire community take with them baby formula, diapers, asthma inhalers, life-saving medications, and of course jobs. These closures are not arbitrary and they are not innocent.”
“They are life-threatening acts of racial and economic discrimination,” she added.
The closures have also been criticized by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA), the latter of whom referred to the pharmacy chain as “heartless.”
“”A one mile is a long way when racial and economic discrimination have already created pharmacy and food deserts and a lack of transportation,” said Markey. “More than 20 percent of Roxbury residents are food insecure. Roxbury also faces the highest rates in the city of chronic disease, such as asthma and diabetes.”
In a more recent X post, Markey claimed that Walgreens is putting profits over the “health of black, brown and immigrant communities.”
“Walgreens must provide resources to limit the harm they’ve created. They cannot just abandon Roxbury,” he said.
The @Walgreens closure of 416 Warren St. is the latest example of corporations putting profit over the health of Black, Brown, and immigrant communities. Walgreens must provide resources to limit the harm they’ve created. They cannot just abandon Roxbury. https://t.co/zBwU24vBzX
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) January 31, 2024
Pressley echoed Markey’s calls for action against Walgreens on the House floor, arguing that the company has a responsibility to keep their store in the high crime area.
“Shame on you, Walgreens. Having a website with talking points about health equity and underserved communities is not enough. Walgreens is a multi-billion dollar corporation that needs to put their money where their Walgreens is a multi-billion dollar corporation that needs to put their money where their mouth is and stop digesting from black and brown communities.”