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"We think it's insensitive": Residents outraged as Walgreens plans to close Roxbury pharmacy

Residents outraged as Walgreens closes pharmacy in Roxbury
Residents outraged as Walgreens closes pharmacy in Roxbury 02:33

ROXBURY - The store shelves are empty and the signs are up alerting customers that a Roxbury Walgreens is closing for good at the end of the month. 

"How are they supposed to get their medicine?" asked Janice Smith, a longtime customer. 

It's sparking concern and outrage from residents who rely on the Warren Street drugstore in this predominantly Black neighborhood. 

"What happens to our seniors and our single parents that have nowhere to get to a Walgreens or another pharmacy anywhere near their homes?" said Reverend Miniard Culpepper. "And so we think it's insensitive – it's unjust." 

Rev. Culpepper points to the senior housing developments just steps away from the Walgreens and questioned how the elderly in the area will get their prescription medications without having to take public transportation, especially since the pharmacy chain closed their Hyde Park, Nubian Square and Mattapan locations in 2022. 

Walgreens said they're downsizing, but Rev. Culpepper believes it's nothing short of greed. When asked why he thinks Walgreens is targeting Black and Brown communities, Culpeper said, "I think because they don't get any pushback. But they're now getting pushback." 

He's protesting alongside dozens of other frustrated customers, fighting to keep the Walgreens open. 

"Don't we need to have something in the community to help the Black, the elderly and the sick, you know what I'm saying? They can't go far," Smith said. 

The problem boils down to accessibility, according to former Boston NAACP president turned healthcare advocate Michael Curry. 

"The communities where they're closing these pharmacies are communities where people are desperately impacted by disease. Two or three times higher rates in cancer, diabetes, heart disease. Where life expectancy can be 15, 20 years less," said Curry. 

While this isn't the only Walgreens or pharmacy chain set to close locations in the coming weeks, Curry said it begs a question. 

"What is your obligation? What is your expectation as a corporate citizen to do what's right for those communities beyond what's right just for your bottom line," he asked. 

Another protest is planned at the Roxbury Walgreens on Friday, Jan. 12 at 4 p.m. 

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