The Occupy movement galvanized protest singers to assemble in public spaces and shout their grievances last year. In Los Angeles, the potential arrival of a ChinatownWal-Martmay do the same.
Wal-Marthas already begun construction on the controversial store at Grand Avenue and Cesar A. Chavez Boulevard, but this Saturday a bevy of union organizers and local and national acts known for social activism will lead what they’re billing as “the largest protest against Wal-Mart ever held in the U.S.”
Acts that include Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and adventurous folkie Ben Harper (who headlines the Hollywood Bowl the next night) will appear and perform at the rally, while noise-punks No Age will lead a kickoff rally on Friday night beforehand at the nearby Human Resources gallery.
The Grammy-winning singer Steve Earle lent his support to the protest in a video message from a Nashville recording studio, saying, “If I wasn’t [in Nashville making a record] I would love to be in Chinatown, L.A., on June 30.... I’ve never known of Wal-Mart to be a good neighbor in any town it’s ever moved into. Y’all stick together out there.”
The protest organizers have criticized the store, a 33,000-square-foot grocery-centric outlet of Wal-Mart, for paying low wages and for potentially displacing local independent retailers in the historic neighborhood. The L.A. City Council passed an emergency temporary ban on new chain stores in the area, but Wal-Mart had received building permits the day before the ban.