Thursday, April 28, 2011

Anti-Walmart Flash Mob Strikes Again - Walmart Free NYC & Jobs for Justice

A Few Weeks After Focusing on Related Co., the Flash Mob Disrupts Wal-mart CEO Mike Duke Appearance in Bryant Prk

Activists Promise to Continue Disrupting Wal-mart and It's Partners

On April 27, Walmart CEO Mike Duke visited New York City to have breakfast with the Wall Street Journal and a roomful of corporate elites. Everyday New Yorkers weren't invited. But we have a lot of strong opinions about his plans to take over our city and flood it with poverty wage jobs. So we decided to throw him a little surprise party, brass band in tow!

A hundred singing and dancing activists converged on Bryant Park on Wednesday to protest Walmart for its record of mistreating women, African Americans and Latinos and the LGBT community, and to confront Walmart CEO Mike Duke in person.

New York Jobs with Justice and members of the Walmart-Free NYC Coalition, including RWDSU, the Retail Action Project, New York Communities for Change, and Make the Road NY, held up yellow frowny-face masks and surrounded the windows of the Bryant Park Grill, chanting “Walmart cheats, Walmart hates, Walmart discriminates!” for nearly an hour as Mike Duke spoke inside.

Amid the chanting, a brass band loudly performed a dance number in front of the windows called "Mr. Walmart," modeled on Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff,” with a drag-clad Lady Liberty telling a performer dressed as Mr. Walmart on stilts, "Who do you think you are?/ Mr. Walmart/ You’re never gonna get my love."

“Walmart can spend as much money as it wants to buy its way into New York,” said Javier Valdes, Deputy Director of Make the Road NY, one of New York City’s largest community organizations. “But that doesn’t change the fact that Walmart doesn’t share New York’s values. They have settled a lawsuit for discriminating against black truck drivers, fired Latino workers who complained about being called racial slurs, and is facing the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history.”

Walmart is reportedly looking to open many stores throughout the five boroughs. One possible location is the Gateway II development in East New York, Brooklyn, which is being developed by the Related Companies, who was the focus of the first Anti-Walmart flash mob. The site was subject to a lengthy community planning process, and Related’s recently reported move to introduce a Walmart into those plans without community consent have raised a flurry of opposition from concerned residents, community organizations and local elected officials.

At a recent Housing Preservation and Development hearing, concerns were raised that the City-sponsored appraisal of the land was incomplete.

According to event organizer Austin Guest of NY Jobs with Justice, “If Walmart opens stores in our city, there is no indication that they will stop their track record of killing local jobs, treating workers poorly, and eliminating competition from responsible employers. We will keep following Walmart and its allies to make sure that New Yorkers know what Walmart will bring with them into New York.”

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