Organizers Detail Rationale Behind Downtown Pensacola Boycott
Organizers of a boycott of downtown Pensacola businesses have released additional specifics about targeted businesses and the rationale behind targeting the businesses.
Following the city of Pensacola’s decision to pursue an ordinance banning panhandling from the downtown area, a group of community activists organized the boycott. Certain businesses were placed on the boycott list, with organizers describing the businesses as being owned by individuals who actively supported the ordinance.
In the days following the boycott announcement, some local business owners — including Quint Studer — questioned their inclusion and noted their charitable contributions to local organizations serving the area’s homeless population. In response, boycott organizers said they would release a more specific statement.
Below is the group’s full statement, which also includes information about why they have decided to remove Vinyl Music Hall from the boycott list.
Following the state from boycott organizers is the statement from Studer.
“There are currently over 300 people participating in a six-week boycott of select downtown businesses in response to the anti-panhandling ordinance recently passed by city council (260+ committed, 70+ interested). The purpose of this document is to update and correct certain aspects of the initial press release. As working-class people doing our best to organize in solidarity with the homeless and poor of Pensacola – in what little free time we have – we would like to make it clear that we do not think of ourselves as being above criticism. We appreciate the opportunity to present a more accurate list of businesses that support the ordinance, so that those who choose to exercise their right to withhold their money and/or labor from unethical businesses may continue to do so in an informed manner.
Link to event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1405788239488046/
This document has been sent to the businesses mentioned herein.
This document contains:
Updated boycott list (additions and removals)
Reasons why each business is on the list
Corrections to some statements on the social media event page
Information on the inadequacies of certain Pensacola charities (see section re: Studer)
Updated List of Boycotted Businesses:
Jeweler’s Trade Shop (Corbett Davis Jr.)
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s (Tracy and Tamron Goodson)
Bodacious Shops (Quint Studer)
Bubba’s Sweet Spot (Quint Studer)
So Chopped (Quint Studer)
Downtown YMCA (Studer/Levin)
Hopjacks (Joe Abston)
Pot Roast and Pinot (Joe Abston)
The Tin Cow (Joe Abston)
New World Landing (Jim Homyak)
Carmen’s Lunch Bar (MariCarmen Josephs)
The Azalea (Councilperson Johnson)
O’ Riley’s Irish Pub (Owner’s Name Unavailable)
Urban Objects (Sarah Gillette)
Arrow Salon (Simmi Taylor)
Belle Ame Bath and Body (Yvette Crooke-Avera)
Gypsy Southern Boutique (Tina Melder)
Adonna’s Bakery (Adonna Zehr)
Sparkle Children’s Boutique (KC McCall)
Reasons why each business is on the list:
Owner Corbett Davis Jr. has been cited by regional media (WEAR, Inweekly) as supporting the ordinance. He was described by a representative of a city council member as ‘leading the charge’ on the anti-panhandling ordinance.
Owner Tracy Goodson made statements at city council in support of the ordinance.
Studer Businesses (Bodacious Shops, So Chopped, Bubba’s Sweet Spot, Downtown YMCA)
Although Studer has a made a public statement in response to the boycott describing his philanthropy, the fact that he did not take that opportunity to acknowledge the anti-panhandling ordinance amounts to a complete refusal to discuss the stated purpose of the boycott – to protest businesses that support the anti-panhandling ordinance.
The Studer Businesses are on the list because multiple employees of Studer businesses conveyed to participants of the boycott that he supports the ordinance. Some boycott participants posed as reporters in order to interview downtown businesses about the ordinance. In the case of Studer, multiple employees made on the record statements regarding the owner and/or managers of the businesses supporting of the ordinance. These employees communicated to us that they were instructed “not to talk about the ordinance,” and therefore their identities will remain anonymous.
Additionally, Studer invested in the “A Better Way to Give” project, which is explicitly anti-panhandling. In fact, Studer got involved in this project before closing down the only homeless shelter in Pensacola that accepted LGBTQ people (The Beacon). Many of the other charities Studer cites in his public statement offer very limited resources to most of the homeless population. There are no shelters in Pensacola that accept single women (unless they are victims of domestic violence). Waterfront Mission and Loaves & Fishes only provide clients with shelter for a limited number nights per year, after which the homeless person must enter into a religious program, accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, or pay a nightly fee. It is precisely because of these stipulations that certain members of the homeless population must resort to begging in order to survive (in fact, some of them must panhandle in order to afford getting into a shelter). Therefore, significant donations to such charities do not in any way make up for supporting the anti-panhandling ordinance, and all commentary that focuses on these charities as viable options for panhandlers is misinformed.
Joe Abston Businesses (Hopjacks, Pot Roast & Pinot, The Tin Cow)
Joe Abston approached two participants of the boycott who were interviewing panhandlers near his business and stated explicitly that he supports the anti-panhandling ordinance.
New World Landing
Owned by Jim Homyak, a board member of the Downtown Improvement Board, the quasi-governmental organization that lobbied for the passing of the anti-panhandling ordinance.
Carmen’s Lunch Bar
MariCarmen Josephs was interviewed by participants of the boycott posing as journalists. She made on-the-record statements of support for the anti-panhandling ordinance.
Owned by Councilperson Johnson, who voted to pass the ordinance.
O’Riley’s Irish Pub
The manager of O’ Riley’s was interviewed by participants of the boycott posing as journalists and made on-the-record statements of personal support for the ordinance, as well as confirming the owner’s support for the ordinance.
The following businesses endorsed the ordinance in a signed statement to the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce:
Belle Ame Bath and Body
Gypsy Southern Boutique
Sparkle Children’s Boutique
Corrections to Initial List and Certain Statements on the Boycott Social Media Event Page
The Vinyl Music Hall has been removed from the list. The Vinyl was originally added because it was owned by a Levin family member (Teri Levin being a DIB member), and was started in partnership with Joe Abston. However, after learning that Joe is no longer involved in the business, and that the Levins who own the Vinyl are not board members of the DIB, we’ve decided to remove them from the list. With that said, the owner’s contributions to the Hayward campaign (who has a long history of passing anti-homeless legislation), the familial association with the DIB, and the presence of an “A Better Way to Give” meter on Vinyl property, all point to Vinyl being a force in support of anti-homeless practices. We hope Vinyl Music Hall will take this opportunity to step forward and, in the spirit of the countless punk rock bands they host, denounce the inhumane anti-panhandling ordinance that privileges profits over people.”
Communities and citizens across the country are facing a number of challenges today. Certainly homelessness is one of them, and our city is no different.
There are many causes of homelessness, from unemployment and jobs, to mental health and addiction, to generational and situational poverty.
Creating jobs is one way the Studer Family of Companies has helped improve the quality of life in our community. We are the only developers who require contractors to hire local people for at least 75 percent of our construction jobs. We also employ many special needs and disabled individuals in our companies.
As a recovering alcoholic myself, and having lost many people to addiction and mental health issues, we know firsthand how serious these issues can be.
There are immediate needs for people facing hunger and needing shelter. Over the years Rishy and I, like many others, have worked to help people in our community facing a number of challenges.
These organizations include the Waterfront Mission, Epps Christian Center, UWF, Pathways for Change, Council on Aging, Manna Food Bank and others.
We continue to applaud the many organizations, groups and churches who work deliberately to help those in need.
A small group of individuals have created an anonymous social media platform to encourage people to boycott certain downtown businesses. We hope the community would look beyond these nameless and baseless attacks, and continue supporting those businesses and organizations that donate their time and resources to help those less fortunate.
Anyone who wants to learn more about what we do for those in need can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Herbert Spencer wrote many years ago, “A sure way to keep oneself in darkness is to have contempt prior to investigation.” We encourage people to learn more about this situation as well as donating to the organization(s) of their choice. Let’s not make bad decisions for the wrong reasons or based on wrong information.