Wal-Mart shareholders are headed to Bentonville, Ark. for the company’s 50th anniversary and annual meeting Friday, but local opponents of the chain are trying to bring attention to the company’s alleged bribery of Mexican officials, currently under investigation by the Department of Justice.
Respect DC, the local union-backed advocacy group that has opposed the opening of Wal-Mart stores in the District, plans to hold a festival and parade May 31 that will feature not only anti-Wal-Mart rhetoric but also floats, stilt walkers, face painters and clowns, according to Beth Pointer, Respect DC’s campaign manager.
“Wal-Mart’s annual shareholder meeting starts on Friday so all over the country different community groups are meeting,” Pointer said. She said she expects more than 100 people to meet at 11 a.m. at 801 New Jersey Ave. NW, one of the sites where the chain plans to build a D.C. store, and march to the company’s lobbying offices in Gallery Place.
Pointer said she is pushing for a local investigation into the company’s tactics. Her group, along with the UFCW Local 400 foodworkers union, plans to distribute a flyer asking “Who’s in bed with Walmart?” and she said the protest will feature ”a hilarious depiction of Mayor Gray.”
“What we’re doing here specifically in D.C. is highlighting 50 years of [Wal-Mart’s employment] practices as well as the Mexican bribery scandal,” Pointer said. “We just think that they should do a larger investigation given the corruption going on in Mexico.”
Wal-Mart’s David Tovar issued a statement to the Post last month in response to questions about the investigation, saying: “We take compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) very seriously and are committed to having a strong and effective global anti-corruption program in every country in which we operate.”
Wal-Mart still plans six stores in the District, but some of them have been delayed and work has only begun on one, at the intersection of Georgia and Missouri avenues, in Northwest.
Respect DC has also brought protests against the JBG Cos., the developer of the New Jersey Avenue store and another planned for Fort Totten, and Marriott, whose president and chief executive, Arne M. Sorenson, is on Wal-Mart’s board of directors.
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