Food loaded into dumpsters while hundreds turned away

By Sarah Carlson
April 3, 2013

Hundreds of working-class people waiting outside of a closed grocery store for the possibility of getting food is not the picture of the “American Dream” people living here and abroad are taught to believe in. Yet on March 23, that is exactly what happened.

Folks filled the parking lot with bags and baskets hoping to get some of the baby food, canned goods, noodles and other non-perishables when a local church never came to pick up the food, as had been arranged with the store owner prior to the eviction.

After the eviction, the owner of the property became SunTrust bank, and as the people gathered, they had to be restrained as the food was loaded into dumpsters and hauled to a landfill.

As with any eviction, anything left inside the premises comes into the property holder’s ownership. However, after the story had been covered in the media for two days, the media relations officer for the bank, Mike McCoy, said, "We are working with store suppliers as well as law enforcement to dispose of the remaining contents of the store and secure the building." But he also said that the food never belonged to and does not belong to SunTrust Bank. Teresa Russell, chief deputy of the Marshal's Office in Richmond County, says the owner of the building ordered that all of the food and other items removed from the store be taken to the landfill. Some people even followed the truck to the landfill and were still turned away.

We all know the way the law works in this twisted system, Mike McCoy, so there is no need to sugar-coat anything. And since there are about 20 evictions per day in Richmond County, many people in that parking lot probably knew all too well that property left in a rental space after eviction becomes the property of the building owner. Similar to the H & M scandal that broke in 2010 when clothes were being shredded before being thrown away, this situation reeks of the truth of capitalism.

In a capitalist society, food is not produced to feed people, housing is not made to shelter, clothing is not made to keep people warm, and health care does not exist to keep people healthy. All of these things, which are and should be viewed as basic human rights, are nothing more than commodities from which to make a profit, and if a profit cannot be made, usually due to overproduction in relation to the market, the commodity is useless and destroyed.

In the case of the grocery store, the commodity wasn’t even destroyed in order to regulate the market. Perhaps the bank figured they would not make a profit in a county with 22.4 percent of people living at the poverty line and 10.6 percent earning below 50 percent of it (2009). So why not at least watch people stare in disbelief, with empty bags, as they watch the food that could be feeding their families, dumped into a landfill instead.

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