UPDATE: After this article was published on June 17, Hayden posted an apology letter (dated June 16) to the CFMA’s website. Livermore, its downtown association and Livermore Pride issued a joint statement condemning the incident. Los Altos also decided to suspend its farmer’s market this week while it evaluates its options.
The Livermore Farmers Market (LFM) canceled operations for June 18 and 21 and is currently looking for a new market manager following the release of a controversial video.
The footage shows Gail Hayden, Executive Director of the California Farmers Market Association (CFMA) – the organization that served as the LFM’s market manager until its June 16 resignation – berating a vendor for handing out rainbow flags to shoppers.
Dan Floyd, owner of Dan Good Cookies, was handing out the flags with Amy Pannu, executive director of Livermore Pride, on Sunday, June 7, when they were confronted by Hayden, who said they were violating market rules. According to Livermore Pride, a local organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community, Hayden demanded they stop at once.
In a written response on its website, Livermore Pride said it believes the pair was targeted for representing the LGBTQ+ community.
“Nothing else explains the outright vitriol and weighted language used in this recording,” the organization stated.
The last three minutes of the heated encounter were captured in a video that the local pride group posted to YouTube. It quickly generated outrage on social media and brought a parade of TV news crews to town. It also caused many members of the community to rally in support of Floyd and Pannu.
In the video, Hayden does not elaborate on what rules handing out free flags violated. However, based on Hayden’s comments about political activity, Livermore Pride wrote it appears she was referring to rules in the vendor agreement that prohibit leafleting and petitioning inside the market.
In response to the video, scores of people, including Mayor John Marchand, placed orders with the Dan Good Cookies retail store to show their support. On the store’s webpage, Floyd said he has had to stop temporarily accepting orders because of the overwhelming response. An online petition demanding a change of management at the farmers market had collected nearly 1,600 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
Calls to the CFMA seeking comment for this story were not returned.