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Demonstrations target major retailers around the country for economic and racial justice

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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Daily protests are continuing nationwide after a November 24 grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teen Michael Brown. On November 28, those protests coincided with nationwide rallies against Black Friday.

This year, stores opened on Thanksgiving and remained open on the Friday after–a traditional holiday known for throngs of shoppers camping out for days and getting into fights for the best shoppings deals of the year.

As protestors shut down malls in several cities across the country in solidarity with Ferguson, as many as 1,600 Walmart stores faced their largest Black Friday protests yet, by the union-backed group Our Walmart, with demands including living wages and the right to unionize.

CROWD: Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

NOOR: In Ferguson and nearby St. Louis, acts of civil disobedience forced a mall to close down. Arrests were made in New York, Oakland, and Chicago. In New York, protestsors marched down 6th Avenue and through Macy’s store. In the Bay Area, several protestors were arrested as they shut down a BART train. Later that night, protestors clashed with police in San Francisco. In Washington, a march shut down the D.C. area Beltway.

Walmart released this statement on their website in response:

“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 US. (…) It’s unfortunate that this group attempts to disrupt the holiday spirit to push their agenda. The reality is that Walmart is focused every day on providing our associates with opportunities for job growth.”

Walmart is owned by the Walton family, who own more wealth than 40 percent of Americans combined.

On the heals of a nationwide strike by Walmart workers in June of this year, The Real News, reported on a Demos study that found that women are disproportionately impacted by the company’s pay scale and that Walmart could pay its workers $25,000 a year–which is equivalent to $15 an hour full-time–without charging customers more. The Demos report found that women make an average hourly wage of $10.58 at Walmart are disproportionately represented in low-wage retail positions and face unstable and inconsistent work hours, even with full-time positions. The study found that a wage floor of $25,000 per year at major retailers would amount to a 27 percent pay raise and, quote, “would lift hundreds of thousands of women and their family members out of poverty, and hundreds of thousands more would emerge from near-poverty.” With 7.8 million women predicted to join the industry over the next decade, the wage increase would add $17.73 per year to the average household shopping bill, or just $0.17 per shopping trip. They said this wage increase is affordable for large retailers, representing only 1 percent of total annual retail sales.

On Sunday, members of the St. Louis Rams football team demonstrated briefly in solidarity with Ferguson.

From Baltimore, this is Jaisal Noor.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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