Black Friday protestors demonstrate at Hilltop Mall
on December 1, 2014
More than 200 union protestors rallied outside Walmart at Richmond’s Hilltop Mall Friday morning.
“Today’s action was about being in solidarity with workers who are paid less than the living wage,” said Stephanie Hervey of the Black Movement Organization Education Richmond. The demonstration was in concert with about 1600 other Black Friday protests around the country.
Organizers said the Hilltop Mall event was the culmination of frustrations with large corporations’ lack of responsibility to their employees and the environment, urban gentrification, and general racial and socioeconomic disparities nationwide—recently manifested in Ferguson.
Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour was one of the demonstrators’ primary goals. And though it wasn’t the case in Richmond, other Walmart locations were faced with formal Black Friday strikes by some of their employees.
The Richmond protest was a peaceful reprieve from some of the violent clashes between police and demonstrators around the Bay Area and across the country this past week. However, at the same time Friday, protestors shut down the West Oakland BART station and 14 people were arrested.
Brooke Anderson, one of the organizers at Hilltop Mall and a member of Movement Generation: Justice & Ecology Project said the event was successful because so many different “climate and justice organizations” came together in common cause.
Shanelle Yang, a University of Southern California student and member of United Students Against Sweatshops, said about Walmart; “Not only do they neglect rights of workers in American stores, but also factory safety of workers abroad.”
In a response statement, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg said, “The crowds are mostly made up of paid union demonstrators and they do not represent our 1.3 million associates who do work for Walmart in the U.S.”
“It’s unfortunate that this group attempts to disrupt the holiday spirit to push their agenda,” the statement continued. “The reality is that Walmart is focused every day on providing our associates with opportunities for job growth.”
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