Friday, November 29, 2013

WalMart protest in San Leandro on "Black Friday"

I was at the WalMart demo in San Leandro today. It was fairly large, about 600 people perhaps.  There was obviously an agreement with the cops that there would be some arrests as towards the end as we blocked off the street, Hesperian Blvd.  Last year we were in the parking lot but this year the company got an injunction to prevent that.  The California, constitution through the Pruneyard decision says it's legal to leaflet on private property as long as you don't sell, coerce etc. Obviously the organizers (the unions) chose not to exercise their constitutional rights and honored  the injunction that deprived us of it. I think to have religious figures speak talking about the holy spirit and stuff like that is wrong and divisive.  All in all though, it was a spirited affair.  There is definitely a shift in the mood among the low waged workers especially.

David Johnson from Champaign IL organiozed his own protest at a local WalMart and sends in this report:

Black Friday Walmart Protest in Urbana Illinois

Our Walmart protest in Urbana IL. today ( Nov. 29th ) was interesting.

WE had 30 people turn out to protest.

When I and three others first arrived 20 minutes early, we deceided to set-up on the sidewalk on the south side of Walmart where we were right next to the entry to the Walmart parking lot, as opposed to the sidewalk on the busy street where the entry road begins. Within 5-minutes of setting-up, two Walmart security people approached us and told us we were on private property.

I stated that we were on a public sidewalk and we had every right to be there. One of the security people then stated that they had a zoning map that showed that the sidewalk was on their property and that if we did not leave they would call the police.

At which point one of our protesters, a retired Railroad Worker, said in a very assertive manner, for them to call the police that we would love to get arrested because it would be the best publicity we could hope for. I then asked where their property line was and the Walmart security person said that he was not going to tell us that info. I then stated that if he wasn't going to share that info then that we would wait for the police to arrive to sort things out. At which point the Walmart security people left.
After this encounter more people began to arrive, We were spread out in four spots, two groups of people on the main road on each side of the entry road and two groups of people on both sides of the road next to the parking lot.

We eventually over time all gathered in one group up toward the main road, with many cars passing by honking approval.

Unfortuantely few drivers took flyers.

Towards the end of the protest we decided to have a delegation of about ten people walk to the Walmart entrance to give a letter to management to forward to their corporate headquarters, deploring the wages and working conditions of Walmart Workers, The letter was from a local interfaith community group.

The ten member delegation was 50 feet or more from the entrance of the store when Walmart security came charging out the entry door to stop us. The head of the security detail was a woman who looked a lot like Sarah Palin and even spoke like her, telling us that she admired our determination in braving the cold for so long but that we were now causing an adverse public safety issue and that if we did not leave the store entry area and the parking lot immediately that they would call the police. Many of the delegation bantered a bit with the Palin clone for a while and then we eventually left.

We returned to the public sidewalk and began to disperse when the police arrived. The cop got out of his car and asked who was in charge to which we stated our standard reply that no one is in charge ( that always confuses the police ). The cop actually was very friendly and said that we shouldn't go on Walmart's property anymore, that BOTH sidewalks were public property that we had every right to be on and that our delivery of the letter to the front door was also an acceptable legal action. He then stated that he supported what we were doing and wished us a good day and left.

Lastly I handed out the postcard sized colored flyers to people ( the ones targeted at Walmart Workers and requested that everyone within the next few days to go to one of the three Walmart stores in our city, walk into the store and hand out three of the flyers ( unfortunately we only had enough for three per person ) to three Walmart Workers in the store and then leave.

I have film footage of some of the days' event including the confrontation with the Walmart security at the front entrance door to the Walmart store. I was also interviewed by both local television stations, one interview before the protest and one during the protest.

All in all, a good day.

David Johnson
Central Illinois Jobs with Justice

No comments: