In 2015, 25-year-old Freddie Gray died in police custody following an April 19 arrest (via The Washington Post). Due to the highly suspicious nature of his death, protesters took to the streets to raise awareness about the mistreatment of African American men by police officers. As tensions between police and protesters escalated throughout the month, Five Guys and Whole Foods opted to donate free food to officers and National Guardsmen.
For some, giving free meals to a group that is currently being protested against is inappropriate. The outrage was further fueled by the revelation that following the closure of public schools in Baltimore after protests turned violent, low-income families were left without a means to feed their children.
“While Baltimore’s poorest kids go hungry due to school closures (no school meals), @WholeFoods feeds the oppressor,” said journalist Rania Khalek. tweeted. “Pretty disgusting that @WholeFoods & @FiveGuys are giving free food to the National Guard in Baltimore instead of malnourished kids,” another furious Tweeter read.
Although the Whole Foods team continued to tell ABC News that the store was working with community organizations to provide food to families in need during the protests, Five Guys has since remained silent on the matter, likely to avoid unwanted attention.