A demonstration outside a new Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) outlet in the Chinatown area of Los Angeles on Thursday night, demanding that the retail giant provide better wages and benefits for its workers led to the arrest of more than 50 protestors, media reports said.
The peaceful demonstrators included teachers and nurses as well as community activists, and the arrests were made without incident, according to Reuters. However, reports said protesters blocked a street outside the store at 701 W. Cesar E Chavez Ave., obstructing traffic, while hundreds of people gathered on the sidewalk. Police ordered protesters to disperse at 6 p.m. PST (9:00 p.m. EST). Traffic was restored by 8 p.m. PST. The detainees will be held in custody overnight in the absence of a $500 bail.
Glen Arnodo, staff director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which organized the demonstration, said Wal-Mart perpetrates “unequal distribution of wealth” and that the protest was meant to draw attention to the issue, Reuters reported.
Wal-Mart’s Chinatown store, the first in central Los Angeles, opened in September, amid opposition from locals, many of whom expressed concerns that small shop owners in a historic immigrant neighborhood would lose significant business to the retail chain, which could potentially price them out of the market.
In June 2012, thousands of protesters held a massive demonstration opposing the building of the Chinatown store, while several workers’ unions unsuccessfully sued the retailer to stop the project.
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Wal-Mart has long been targeted by labor unions for failing to hire workers who are part of unions and paying workers relatively low wages.
Thursday night’s protests came close on the heels of Wal-Mart kicking off its holiday shopping deals on Nov. 1, a month earlier than usual.