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Martin's employee quits after being told to remove Black Lives Matter mask

NOW: Martin’s employee quits after being told to remove Black Lives Matter mask

GRANGER, Ind. —  A former Martin’s employee said he was told to get a different face mask after writing the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on the front of his, and a Facebook post about the affair has since gone viral.

Granger native Avery Worrell admitted to ABC57 he didn’t expect that much attention from it, but he said he above all wants to put the spotlight on bringing change to properly address racism.

“Yes all lives matter, but we’re not treating it like that,” Worrell said.
”And that is so frustrating to see as an American, because that’s what’s happening to our people.”

So Worrell, a December graduate from Texas Christian University with a degree in criminal justice, said he decided to write “Black Lives Matter” on his face mask for working behind the deli counter at the Martin’s on Adams Road in Granger.

“And I work 40 hours a week, so my best bet was to just wear it at work because Martin’s said we were free to express ourselves anyway we wanted on our face masks,” Worrell said.
“There was not really any policy preventing what we could or couldn’t have; it just couldn’t be offensive.”

But by Friday, the third day of wearing it, his managers told him to take it off after complaints.

“At that point I said I’m going to leave, and my manager’s response was “Well does that mean you quit? Because you can never wear that mask.’”

It prompted this Facebook post, which as of Sunday evening has amassed almost 50 thousand likes and 30 thousand shares.

Worrell was joined by about a dozen others Sunday, holding up signs against racism outside his former workplace.

Latrell Stokes of South Bend organized the store protest after seeing the Facebook post.

“My call to action was more about us coming together as a community and completely standing against racism,” Stokes said.
“Martin’s hadn’t made any public thing to stand against racism until they got all the backlash from us about the incident that happened.”

Martin’s Senior Vice President Amy McClellan stands by the decisions made by the store, sending a statement to ABC57 that reads in part:

“As part of our uniform guidelines, we inform associates that they may not wear anything to work that advocates a position. For this reason, an associate was asked not to wear a black lives matter mask, even though we are unequivocally in support of racial equality and justice. If we allow an associate to wear a mask advocating this view, we will have to allow associates to wear something advocating a position we abhor – and we are not willing to be put in that position.”

Days after the incident, Worrell still takes issue with the grocery chain’s responses to him.

“It’s really disappointing that their only idea of responding to me was to reply to a Facebook post that has thousands of comments by now,” Worrell said.
“Then they also only replied to another post; didn’t even put it as an original post on their feed. It seems like they’re not trying to bring the light to this. "(They should) be proactive instead of just silent, because complacency is the worst thing you can even try to do right now.”

Martin’s added that it appreciates Worrell’s passion and looked forward to seeing him at his next shift, but Worrell told ABC57 Sunday he does not plan to return to work there before moving out of state later this year to pursue a master’s degree.

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