Duplessis Writes Scathing Letter to Rouse’s Co-Owner

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Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana State Rep. Royce Duplessis wrote a scathing open letter to Donald Rouse, the co-owner of Rouse’s Enterprises LLC, after Rouse’s attendance at Wednesday’s pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C. caused controversy this week.

“Two days ago, the entire world gazed in horror by the violent insurrection that took place upon the United States Capitol,” wrote Duplessis, a Democrat who represents District 93. “Call it a coincidence, but that same night I was one of the final customers in the checkout line at the Rouses Supermarket on Baronne Street, one of two Rouses grocery stores located in my legislative district. Not more than five minutes after shopping at your store, I learned that you were among the thousands of ‘patriots’ who felt compelled to participate in a detestable rally to further a lie that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen.”

Duplessis said Rouse’s published statement addressing the controversy is inadequate.

“To suggest that you did not know that such violence would occur is intellectually dishonest,” he said. “This was not a peaceful protest or a ‘farewell rally’ to Donald Trump. It was a vile and extreme effort to undermine democracy and oppose the peaceful transfer of power, which ultimately led to five deaths. I respect your constitutional rights. I also acknowledge the high likelihood that I patronize other businesses that are owned and operated by individuals who might share your similar political views. However, your enthusiastic involvement in Wednesday’s spectacle is deeply troubling. My family and I have always enjoyed shopping at Rouses. In fact, I have always considered myself fortunate to live near a quality grocery store. Many in the greater New Orleans community are not as fortunate. But just like you have your rights, I also have the right to shop elsewhere.”

Duplessis said he’s concerned for customers who’d want to shop elsewhere but don’t have a convenient option – and he said Rouse’s workers who may disagree with their boss’s opinion are in a no-win situation.

“The frontline workers [are] the true heroes and patriots. The people who have kept this community and this economy alive. Many (if not most) of these employees do not share your views. However, many of them do not have the luxury to simply ‘find another job’ because they disagree with you. Have you considered how your presence at Wednesday’s insurrection rally might make your employees or customers feel?

“Our community is wise enough to see your actions for what they are, and make their own decisions on where to spend their dollars. I cannot, however, in good conscience, support your business again until you take SIGNIFICANT actions to denounce and condemn not only the violence that took place, but also what led to the violence. Your presence at Wednesday’s rally makes you, in large part, responsible for what took place. If you care to regain the trust and support of this community, my suggestion is that you give much more consideration to all of your customers and employees when you engage in such reprehensible political activity.”

Rouse, for his part, apologized for his participation in a statement posted the day after the riot:

“I attended the rally yesterday as a supporter of the president and to be in our nation’s capital at the close of his presidency. I left before the violence began and was shocked and saddened to see it unfold on TV. I condemn the actions of those who unlawfully entered and damaged our hallowed institutions and threatened our public servants. Violence and destruction do not represent our country’s values, or the values of Rouses.

“Though I am no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of Rouses, that’s my family’s name on the building and my actions reflect on my family, Rouses and this community I love so dearly. I’m horrified by the violence and destruction we saw yesterday and the pain it has caused so many. Our country desperately needs to come together to heal, and I will do everything I can to be a part of that process.”


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