Walmart's 'robbing from the poor to give to the ultra rich,' says musician Tom Morello
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — An anti-Walmart protest planned for Saturday in Downtown L.A. has garnered the support of area residents, city officials, activists and musicians. Guitar hero Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine fame, will be playing and participating in the 10 a.m. rally, which organizers expect about 10,000 people to attend.
"We don't want to let Walmart destroy Chinatown and unique neighborhoods across L.A. and the United States just to make a few executives in the walton family richer," Morello told Blogdowntown Friday.
The retail giant has planned a neighborhood market in a building on the corner of Grand and Cesar Chavez avenues, resulting in an outpouring of opposition. The stores in this particular Walmart chain are smaller than the typical "big box" superstores, and function mostly as a super market selling food and pharmacy items.
"Walmart's trying to repackage itself as these neighborhood markets, but at the end of the day it's the same old Walmart -- and it's an awful neighbor," argued Morello.
He added that Walmart is "anti-union," "anti-worker" and provides "poverty-level" wages. He described their business model as "absolute reverse Robin Hood policy" -- where they rob the poor to give to the ultra-rich.
Thursday, three L.A. mayoral candidates (councilmembers Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti, along with City Controller Wendy Greuel) announced they would not accept campaign donations from Walmart because they don't support how it will impact L.A.'s economy.
"I understand the importance of creating new jobs, but what is equally important is that we ensure that these new jobs offer our workers the opportunity to have a reasonable quality of life," said Perry in a statement. "This is why it was an easy decision to sign the pledge not to accept donations from Walmart."
But some say that Walmart's new location near Chinatown would place a much-needed grocery store in a neighborhood void of retail opportunity. Many who commented on Blogdowntown's previous coverage of this issue said the area needed a market, and added that the retail giant would not be detracting from other DTLA businesses.
If a Walmart wasn't going to set up shop, would a Fresh and Easy be a better match?
"I have a problem with any store that's not a union store," said Morello, adding however, that Walmart was "particulary insidious" in their anti-worker stance. "I have a problem with any wage that doesn't allow people to have a decent standard of living."