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“Wal-Mart sucks” was the mantra for today’s protest against Mega Giant Wal-Mart that is planning to open a 33,000-square-foot grocery in Los Angeles Chinatown. Nearly 9,000 people showed up. Rows of buses, motorcycles and a sea of vehicles mostly containing individuals representing various unions from San Diego to San Francisco showed up to voice their protest. Members of the area Occupies were also there.
Last March Wal-Mart Stores Inc. got the green light to open their store from LA city officials, despite the fact Councilman Ed Reyes had been working on a moratorium to keep larger retail chains out of the area. I guess the guys in the building permit department didn’t get the memo. The Central City Association, located at 626 Wilshire Boulevard, is the lobbying firm that Wal-Mart uses to persuade LA’s politicians to vote in their favor. I am informed there is an ongoing nightly protest in front of CCA’s office, so if you find yourself with some free time.
A Wal-Mart employee who asked to remain anonymous told me, “Wal-Mart has terrible working conditions, low wages, and is anti-union. Walmart’s idea of benefits is an application to sign up for food stamps and Medical. The tax payers are paying the bill and Wal-Mart is using its profits to buy politicians.”
Did you know that Wal-Mart invested one million dollars in Hyatt Hotels? I guess they really are striving to achieve world domination. Greg Penner who is married to Carrie Walton Penner (Rob Walton’s daughter) is a member of the Board of Directors for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Hyatt. Isn’t that convenient! Penner and his Wal-Mart clan also gave mega bucks towards the privatization of schools by funding Republican candidates running for state office in Wisconsin; Neither Penner or members of his family live in that state. He is also General Partner at Madrone Capital Partners, LLC, an investment management firm, since 2005.
King Cheung, a founding member of Chinatown Community for Equitable Development told the crowd, “Attention Wal-Mart shoppers! This store is closed!” He went on to say that this protest was the largest Wal-Mart protest in the United States. With all the bad publicity Wal-Mart has gotten over the years, I was surprised to hear that.
Other speakers included, “Rage Against the Machine” guitarist and activist Tom Morello, singer-songwriter Ben Harper, and Rep. Judy Chu, (D-El Monte), who is running in Altadena’s new congressional district. She said that any politician taking money from Wal-Mart should give it back, and that she has never taken campaign contributions from that company.
Morello commented that the locals living in Chinatown got along for years without a Wal-Mart and will continue to do just fine without one now. He also said that this location will pave the way for more Wal-Marts to open its doors all over Los Angeles, therefore making LA look more like a city in the Mid-West. He entertained the crowd with the Woody Guthrie activist’s song, “This Land is Your Land”, a far cry from Morello’s music style back in the days when he was a member of the anarchic band, “Rage Against the Machine”.
On July 11, there is a Community Forum scheduled to discuss the impact of Wal-Mart sponsored by The Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED). Here is a link to their Facebook page to get more information. https://www.facebook.com/ccedla.