Occupy Tampa plans to "reverse shoplift" at Wal-Mart as part of a national day of action listen02/29/12 Janelle Irwin
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Wednesday, Occupy Wall Street called for a national day of action to shut down corporations. Movements worldwide have planned various non-violent demonstrations at some of the world’s most profitable corporations. Members of Occupy Tampa are planning an action inside a Hillsborough County Wal-Mart at the 4:00 p.m. hour.
Occupy Wall Street’s main target today is the American Legislative Exchange Council. The group drafts model legislation for state’s in a process that opponents say abandons the true legislative process. In Tampa, occupiers are taking that message to Wal-Mart, which is one of ALEC’s biggest financial contributors. Steve Gentile is with Occupy Tampa.
“They’re invested in slave labor, making cheap products at pennies per hour. The workers are usually working 20 hours a day, sleeping at their station and literally only making pennies. And then we wonder why all these prices at Wal-Mart are so cheap. They’re making high profits. They’re just steamrolling these local family businesses out of the community. They can’t compete with these low prices and then Wal-Mart’s basically taking money out of the community.”
The group plans to enter a Wal-Mart somewhere in Hillsborough County. They will give thank you cards to employees. Gentile said they’re doing that so employees know that occupiers stand in solidarity with them. But he added the group is also going to do an action they call “reverse shoplift.”
“Basically, we made a bunch of shirts that are describing Wal-Mart’s actions and we’re just going to – instead of shoplifting – we’re putting these shirts on the shelves with tags that say free on them.”
Sarah Wald is with Occupy Wall Street. She said groups from all over the world are taking part in the action.
“There are over 80 cities today targeting the American Legislative Exchange Council and drawing attention to their role in crafting – they claim 10% of the legislation that comes through at the state level.”
In a phone interview, Wald said some Wal-Marts in southern California were actually closed temporarily as a result of massive demonstrations. Smaller gatherings like the one in Tampa that is only expected to have about 20 people, might not see the same results. But Wald said the message is still important.
“The creativity today has been really impressive. In Occupy Salt Lake City – is actually having a debutant ball to draw attention to the way ALEC has introduced a copy-cat SB 1070 bill into the Utah state legislature.”
Wald is referring to recently passed anti-immigration legislation in Arizona. Utah is one of ten states considering similar bills. She said with influence from ALEC on harmful state level legislation, Leap Day was the perfect day to send a message to supporters of the group.
“So, it’s the perfect time to take a leap for a society with more democracy and opposing ALEC’s undue influence in corrupting our democracy by putting forth these model bills that benefit corporations at the expense of our communities.”
Other actions have been planned across the country at large corporations like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Pfizer. But most of the attention has landed on Wal-Mart. Both Wald and Gentile said Wal-Mart is a good target because they don’t allow their employees to unionize. Occupy Tampa is also considering what they call “Occupying the Food Supply”. If it happens, members would enter a grocery store and place stickers with messages on produce.