Whole Foods store remains closed after protesters leave pic.twitter.com/LwdrdsD84J— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) September 11, 2015
A labor group and a Black Lives Matter group stood in front of the checkout lines. One group is calling for better working conditions. The other protesters want more accountability after a security guard was accused of beating up a black customer who got into a fight with a cashier last week.
Whole Foods fired the guard and hired a new security company.
In a statement sent out Thursday night, the company president said he strongly believes every customer is entitled to a mutually respectful, safe experience.
VIDEO: Whole Foods fires security guard accused of attacking shopper
The Black Lives Matter protest is in response to an aggressive beating of a customer outside the store last week. A security guard allegedly beat a man after he got into a fight with a cashier.
A witness said the customer had been buying groceries with an EBT card, used to distribute food stamp benefits, when the violence occurred.
The guard in question allegedly slammed the victim against concrete pillars before choking and restraining him and throwing the shopper face down on the pavement, according to one account. Graphic photos were posted online showing the victim bleeding on the ground.
That guard has since been barred from working at Whole Foods in the future, and the upscale grocery chain is working with all their security contractors to reiterate the company's code of conduct, according to a statement issued Saturday by the company spokeswoman Beth Krauss. "As a result of the violent behavior of the security guard at Whole Foods Market Oakland, we are replacing this security firm in the store," she said.
The new firm has been identified as A.G.S. Private Security in Concord. "Much of what's been reported about this incident has alleged that the use of an EBT card had a role in the altercation," Krauss added. "We want to clarify that EBT cards are readily accepted forms of payment at all Whole Foods Market stores."
Police are also investigating the assault.
Some protesters are linking arms to block check out aisles at Whole Foods pic.twitter.com/FpcMW3JIDE— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) September 11, 2015
Whole Foods management has shut the doors and is only allowing people to leave now pic.twitter.com/jChBxD5r6E— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) September 11, 2015
Staff quickly bagging groceries of remaining customers and letting them leave without paying pic.twitter.com/ajsuilKGbf— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) September 11, 2015
Protesters leave Whole Foods, say they held space for one hour pic.twitter.com/cInhKpIWym— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) September 11, 2015
Bay City News contributed to this story.