Protesters plan to appear at Seed To Table after owner’s controversial comments
A protest is planned at Seed to Table in Collier County Saturday. This is following some controversial comments made by Owner Alfie Oakes about the Black Lives Matter movement stating that it’s a “hoax.” Some say this isn’t new behavior from him.
“Anyone that’s lived in SWFL long enough knows about Alfie,” said Kris Knudson of the Activist Protection League of SWFL. “He does this every 6 months, and now is the time that people can finally stand up and say we are not going to let this man represent this community.”
The league exists because activists want to make sure that the voices of the people can be heard without fear.
“We are a collection of experienced civil demonstrators that live in SWFL,” Knudson said. “And we have noticed the recent upswell in civic participation by our youth. And we feel, by providing guidance and infrastructure for healthy and safe people protesting, that the youth of SWFL can be heard by the residents.”
Knudson also wants people to understand that this behavior doesn’t need to be tolerated.
“We don’t have to tolerate this anymore just because these people are wealthy and powerful,” Knudson said. “What we need to focus on is setting up a future where people like Alfie Oakes cannot become successful.”
But Oakes, who also owns Oakes Farms, wanted to speak for himself and set the record straight. “Obviously those people don’t know me,” Oakes said. “Everyone that knows me knows that I’m the farthest thing from a racist. I have 2,300 employees of all different races and ethnicities”
Oakes never imagined his post would be taken to that level. “When I wrote the Facebook post, I could not even imagine it being interpreted in any way as racist,” Oakes said.
Oakes further clarified his post by saying, “The post is that what’s happening in our country doesn’t justify what the cause was. There was a simple, basic flu virus and that they could’ve based the same theory off the year before or the year before last that we’ve shut down the whole economy for it.”
Oakes’ sentiments have not only garnered a protest but also a loss of business partners. The School District of Lee County is reviewing its contract with Oakes Farms, and Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) said it used his services for April and May but will be back to its original distributor.
The CCPS spokesman said in a statement: “The District’s food distributor is Sysco West Coast Florida. The distributor was unable to supply certain products and unable to package them individually to distribute to needy families. Oakes Farms was used as a stop-gap measure, in April and May. We are utilizing the USDA FFAVORS (Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Order Receipt System) program for the month of June to provide produce. In July, Sysco has advised they will be able to resume meeting our produce needs.”
And Benison Center has also cut ties with Oakes Farms. Benison Center is a food provider in Collier County and would use Oakes Farms as a storage location on the days it hosts a distribution site.
Benison Center has moved its location to Lipton at 306 East Main Street in Immokalee.
But Oakes says his employees support him. “My employees support me with what I’ve said. We’ve had several meetings to anyone that doesn’t understand exactly what the message meant,” he said.
And Oakes says that people close to him know and what he actually stands for. “Anyone that knows me knows that’s completely false … I judge every person like the great Martin Luther King said, to judge them by the content of their character.”