D.C. protesters rally against Walmart
Hundreds of protesters marched into Chinatown Thursday afternoon, rallying outside Walmart’s D.C. offices in northwest D.C.
The protesters voiced opposition to the company's plan to open six stores in D.C.
Starting at 801 New Jersey Ave. northwest—one proposed location for six of the new Walmart stores in D.C.—protestors marched through Chinatown and rallied outside the corporation’s D.C. office.
“Walmart lies cheats steals intimidates harasses and bullies its employees,” said protestor Sharon Ramirez.
Protesters wore colorful costumes and used strong language—referring to D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown and Councilmembers Alexander and Bowser.
“It is a shame that the mayor and city council have rolled over whereas other cities have put up a big fight against Walmart coming into urban areas,” said protestor Edna Doggett.
They even suggested D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and others are in bed with Walmart, because of the retail giant’s $21million seven year community partnership initiative investment in D.C.
“We do know that funds have come into the city and these funds are for a community agreements package. And none of these funds as far as we know presently have filtered down into the community in any effective way,” said protestor Reverend Edwin L. Jones Sr.
Some of these protesters, many of them union members, don't live - or even work - in the district, but, they say that doesn’t matter.
“But we represent people throughout the united states, warehouse workers, associates of Walmart that are not getting a fair shake,” Jones said.
In response to the protesters, Walmart officials say opening new stores in D.C. will create about 1,800 new jobs as well as 600 construction jobs. They say it will expand access to healthy, affordable food options especially in underserved communities like those east of Anacostia. They also say it will generate an estimated $10 million of tax revenue for the district.
Walmart's district locations are scheduled to open starting in late 2013. But opponents say the stores will do more harm than good—hurting workers and destroying existing small businesses.
“It has devastated small town USA. It has devastated those areas and now it wants to get a foothold so it can run rampant thru cities,” Doggett said.
Earlier Thursday, Newschannel 8 reached out to Mayor Gray, Chairman Brown and Councilmembers Alexander and Bowser for reaction to the protest.
A spokesperson for the Mayor said “these stores are an important part of expanding retail choices... and creating jobs for district residents. Just as importantly, they will generate millions of dollars in additional revenue that we can invest in education and training district residents for the jobs of tomorrow.”