The California Farmers’ Market Association has resigned as the manager of a market in Livermore, Calif., after the organization’s director was filmed ranting at a gay vendor for distributing rainbow flags.
Gail Hayden, executive director of CFMA, was filmed ordering Dan Floyd, the owner of Dan Good Cookies, to cease distributing rainbow flags at his stall at the Livermore Farmers’ Market on Sunday, June 14.
Floyd was distributing the flags alongside Amy Pannu, the executive director of Livermore Pride, when Hayden approached his booth, CBS SF BayArea reports.
Hayden told Floyd that he couldn’t distribute flags to “satisfy his political point of view.”
“You need to go read the rules, read the section about cooperating with market management, and I will suspend you,” Hayden told Floyd.
“I don’t even care what the flags are for,” she continued. “It has nothing to do with anything…. My job is to run the market, not to satisfy your political point of view, and you can do your political point of view anytime you want to, you can come stand on this corner another time.”
Hayden said it was “disturbing” that Floyd hadn’t read the 30 pages of rules. NBC Bay Area noted that the rules only prohibit “petitions and flyer distributions.”
Floyd told NBC Bay Area that Hayden became “very confrontational” and “very condescending about the entire thing.”
“I definitely felt scared, and I definitely felt scared for my business,” he said. “It definitely felt like the flags and what they represent were the target of her tirade.”
But Hayden told CBS SF BayArea that the incident was a misunderstanding.
“I didn’t really mean [the flags are] political, I meant in the sense that it’s not food, it’s in another category, it’s the same as when animal cruelty people, factory farming, people against foie gras,” she said. “Every market has 10 to 20 things that people argue about.”
Hayden claimed that her concerns were over children using the flags as swords to fight one another.
“It had nothing to do with the topic of the flag, it had to do with the flag itself and my concerns of the liability of it — when they were handing them out to children and they were fencing with them,” she said.
Livermore Pride issued a statement calling Hayden’s comments “a targeted verbal attack against LGBTQ+ community members.”
“The hostility toward both Dan and Amy over something as simple as a small free flag being handed out optionally to Market consumers suggests that they were targeted because they were representing the LGBTQ+ community,” the organizations said. “Nothing else explains the outright vitriol and weighted language used in this recording.
“This incident is not about the existence (of any) of rules and regulations, but rather about a targeted verbal attack against LGBTQ+ community members justified by invoking purported rules and regulations,” the statement continued. “This is not about being ‘politically correct,’ but rather engaging LGBTQ+ community members with common decency, courtesy, and respect.”
The City of Livermore issued a statement saying that the CFMA’s actions “were unacceptable and do not represent the values and principles that are appropriate for the Farmers Market, and all other programs or services in the City of Livermore.”
After public outcry over Hayden’s comments, CFMA resigned its management of the Livermore Farmers’ Market. The market subsequently did not operate on June 18, and will not operate on June 21. Livermore Downtown Inc. is now seeking a new management group.
Hayden also issued an apology on the CFMA website, saying she was focused on “enforcing the market’s rules” and “neglected to see the bigger picture Dan was expressing with his Pride flags.”
“The LGBTQ+ community deserves a tolerant environment to express and celebrate their identity,” Hayden said. “We should not have allowed the escalation of the conversation to take place and we apologize for the inaccurate implications that were made. CFMA recognizes that the Pride flag and the LGBTQ+ community that what it represents is not a political ideology.”
She added: “CFMA values the LGBTQ+ Community. My actions on June 7 offended the LGBTQ+ community which was definitely not my intention and for that I am very sorry.”
Floyd issued a statement through Dan Good Cookies saying he had been overwhelmed with support following the incident.
He said that his shop sold out of all stock on June 16, and that he had to hire extra help to deal with the number of orders he has received. He has also had to shut off orders on his website to try and cope with the influx of demand.
“Thank you for your support over these last few days,” he wrote on the Dan Good Cookies website. “I never could have imagined people from my Livermore community and beyond would respond to this situation in such large numbers.”
Floyd also shared photos to the Dan Good Cookies’ Instagram page showing lines outside his store, noting that June 19 was his store’s “single best day of sales EVER.”
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