Walmart is trying to open a store in The District. It has run into a great deal of opposition, mainly by pro union groups. Walmart seems to run into these problems in major urban areas due to them not being unionized. The particular group protesting this store is called Walmart Free DC. Who is funding this organization has been difficult to figure out, but the previous organization that was fighting Walmart's from opening in DC was funded by SEIU. There is no way to know for sure if they just changed names to hide the SEIU funding, but it isn't a stretch to think so, as SEIU has been very active in keeping Walmart out of New York City and Los Angeles as well.
While I am not protector of Walmart as I have real issues with their business practices. I will admit that they have gotten better about providing health insurance to its workers and the wages have gone up. I solve my issues by simply not shopping there. Well, that is not enough for the people who decided to go to the private home of one of the developers tonight.
Walmart is trying to open a store near Georgia Ave in Washington, DC. Georgia Avenue is not a very good neighborhood for the most part. It is an area that has a great deal of people that live near or below the poverty line. In these areas the unemployment rate of 18-25 year olds is very high, somewhere around 25%. This also is not area that has a great deal of "mom and pop" small businesses. It is in dire need of being upgraded to improve the lives of the people who live there.
One of the main things that these types of protesters use for stopping stores like Walmart coming to town is the fact that in many instances they will drive small businesses out of the immediate area. I actually agree with this as this happened to the town I grew up in. A Home Depot opened up just over the city line and the family owned hardware store went out of business in less than a year. But since this area doesn't have this issue and also has high unemployment wouldn't Walmart be a good idea for this type of neighborhood?
I will give this group of protestors some credit that they did stay on public property. It didn't look like Mr. Knapp was at home, as this was well advertised in advance. There was only one light on in the hallway next to the front door; the rest of the house remained dark. The same couldn't be said of the neighbors. This, by the way, is a very nice section of the District, it is the row houses near the zoo. I witnessed one older woman coming out in her nightgown to complain to the police who were stationed near the house. The police told her that they were within their legal rights to protest as they were on public property. She was not happy to hear this and started yelling at the group to go home. I am sure that their chants of Hey Hey Ho Ho Walmart has Got to Go, and Mr. Knapp if Walmart comes We'll be back (isn't that a threat? I thought that wasn't allowed in this time of civility) were quite annoying. The protesters were pretty loud, as I could hear them about a block away when I was walking to the house from my parking space.
The vast majority of the protesters were young and white. My question is do they understand what it is like to live in a neighborhood like Georgia Avenue? I will admit it; I won't go to this neighborhood, it is a bad area. The people that live there in many cases don't have cars and have to rely on public transportation to get to and from stores. I would venture to say that a good percentage of that neighborhood live on public assistance in some form or another. Wouldn't a less expensive place for them to shop be a good thing? This store will create about 150-200 jobs. While that certainly won't solve all the problems in that neighborhood, but I am sure that those 200 people will be grateful to have that job, and a cheaper place to shop that is within walking distance.
I ran into Mary Katherine Hamm while I was down there and I told her that if my tea party showed up at a private home every newspaper and TV station would be down there covering it. The only media I saw was the local Fox station, the local ABC station and one reporter from the Washington Times. There could have been more that I didn't notice, but it wasn't overly crowded so I doubt it.
Sorry about the shaky video, I was cold.
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