Racist social media posts force one of Minneapolis’ largest Arab groceries to close
Social posts denounced as “racist” posted years ago by the daughter of a major Minneapolis Arab Grocery store have been cited in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing to force the closure of that store. Majdi Wadi published a passioned explanation of what happened on the Facebook page of the popular Holy Land Grocery store after he was forced to fire his daughter. Some said that the daughter’s posts reflected anger when some local thugs threatened and harassed her father
By Ray Hanania
Majdi Wadi, the owner of the Holy Land Grocery, Butcher Shop & Deli in Minneapolis, fired his daughter, Lianne, after her social media posts from three years ago denigrating African Americans surfaced last week in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Wadi’s daughter, Liane, made racist comments on social media including using the “n-word,” and the owner issued a public apology but it wasn’t enough to prevent the leasing company from cancelling the store’s contract, forcing the closure of one of Wadi’s three stores.
But the unusual action still did not quell the anger and outrage of community leaders who organized a massive protests forcing him to shut one of his three Minneapolis stores.
“It has come to our attention that a team member of the Holy Land posted racial slurs onto social media prior to beginning employment with us,” Wadi said in a June 4 statement on Facebook.
“We were not aware of these posts. As a business that was formed by immigrants, we do not tolerate this type of behavior because it is completely against our beliefs and faith. Our mission has always been to promote diversity and equality for all regardless of color, race or religion and to encourage our community to value diversity, and to ensure we transform our neighborhood into an even more harmonized and unified community.”
Wadi acknowledged the “team member” is his daughter.
“Although she was a teenager when she made this mistake, my daughters employment with the company has been terminated effective immediately,” Wadi said in an effort to salvage his successful business.
“We have decided to take this measure as a reflection of the seriousness with which we approach this matter.
Wadi said that his company will implement new employee guidelines regarding race relations including training courses “to ensure all our team members possess knowledge of what is and is not insensitive, offensive, and appropriate for all races, cultures, and religions.”
Wadi’s daughter Lianne explained that she made the comments while a young teenager but apologized for their impact and her father asked the community for “forgiveness” for his daughter’s “senseless slurs.”
“I believe that these social media posts do not accurately reflect who my daughter is as a person now, as she has been involved in bettering herself and her community by donating her time and energy to advocate for all people of color,” Wadi said.
“Prior to these posts surfacing, my daughter has already been participating in the protests for the Black Lives Matter movement. I have personally observed her provide aid to families and businesses throughout the Twin Cities and will continue to do so.”
Despite the passioned statement posted on the food chain’s Facebook page, Midtown Global Market, which leases the building to Holy Land Grocery, announced the termination of the grocery stores rental agreement, ordering Wadi to vacate the property from the block long enclosed market place “immediately.”
“Management of Midtown Global Market is exercising its rights as as landlord to immediately close Holy Land Grocery, Butcher Shop & Deli and terminate their lease,” Midtown Global Market announced in a social media post.
Holy Land Grocery was operating a successful business in the large market shopping mall at 920 East Lake St. The Massive market, previously a vacated Sears & Roebuck building, features 40 ethnic stores including Arab, Indian, Asian and Somali businesses.
Wadi also owns two other locations on Northeast Central Ave. and also in Minneapolis International Airport.
“To all our brothers and sisters who have been affected, we deeply and sincerely apologize for the senseless slurs that were posted to social media,” Wadi said.
“We hope that you can find it in your hearts to forgive us. Through our actions, we will show that we are dedicated and driven to aid in the positive growth of all our team members. Moving forward, we will continue to grow in unity in order to advocate for all minorities and stand in solidarity with, organize and fund initiative to dismantle racism in any way, shape or form.”
Many individuals came to Wadi’s defense saying that his has been a leader in helping local and minority communities in Minneapolis. Others said that Liane’s social media posts were in response to threats that had been made against her father at the time of the posts.