April 10 (UPI) -- Rev. Jesse Jackson brought his call for a national boycott of Kroger over store shutdowns in black communities to its company base in Cincinnati on Tuesday.
"This is a pattern across the country," Jackson, a Baptist minister, civil rights leader and two-time Democratic presidential candidate, told the Cincinnati Business Courier. "They may want to leave, but there are people who want to buy."
Jackson called for the protest last week over Kroger's closure of three stores in black neighborhoods in Memphis in February and other stores serving minority communities such as Walnut Hills in Cincinnati. He is seeking to meet with Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen to discuss urban store closures.
He spoke Tuesday at the site of the closed store in Walnut Hill.
"Kroger in the heart of the black community pulled out -- it created a food desert," Jackson told The Enquirer. "It has a negative impact on the community."
The company said that the Walnut Hills closure was followed by the opening of a store in Coryville only a mile away and closure of three Memphis stores did not create what Jackson calls "a food desert." Still, the closure of the store in Walnut Hill upset residents, some of whom don't have cars.
"Because we operate a 'penny profit' business, we must sometimes make tough decisions in order to keep our prices low for all customers," Kroger spokeswoman Kristal Howard said.