By CATHY FRYE
LITTLE ROCK – Protesters peacefully shut down four Walmart stores in Little Rock today. I headed to the Bowman location after learning that the first wave of participants had managed to close down the store just a few hours after it opened this morning.
This is what I saw.
Empty parking lot. Police blocking access. Puzzled would-be patrons pulling out in a long line.
I pulled up alongside a cop who was chatting with employees. “Is the store closed?” I asked.
“Yes,” the officer said.
“Did something happen?” I pressed.
“Oh, no. It was a corporate decision,” she replied.
So I headed to the next location: Highway 10.
There, too, protesters managed to shut down the store in short order. What did it look like?
Well, first the group marched in front of the store. Then it formed a line, taking care not to block entrances or exits. And then everyone gathered on the crosswalk, facing down the LRPD patrol cars that arrived.
Here’s some video I shot when police arrived:
Even after the store closed and started refusing customers entry, a line of protestors remained in the crosswalk. Police officers stationed themselves much as they had at Bowman, blocking cars from driving in front of the store.
Onward to the Shackleford Walmart. Rinse. Repeat.
That, my friends, is how a group of like-minded people can shut down four packed-out Walmarts efficiently and peacefully.
But why? Why close Walmarts?
To these anguished pleas, I offer this by way of explanation.
Because the Waltons need to understand that it’s time to relinquish their iron-clad grip on the state of Arkansas, on its economy, and on its public schools.
I worked for three years for a Walton-funded “nonprofit” organization called the Arkansas “Public” School Resource Center. If you scroll down this blog, you will find numerous posts about how APSRC operates. Its mission is to destabilize, deconstruct and resegregate public schools. It also is working with other Walton nonprofits to create a private-school voucher system in Arkansas.
The Waltons have put themselves, their politics, and their wealth above what is good for all Arkansans.
So here we are, in the midst of a pandemic and the Waltons are using this public-health crisis and the resulting school closures to retain and even strengthen their control over the Little Rock School District.
And guess who the governor tapped to oversee the hasty reopening of businesses even as the number of cases continue to rise? A Walton. Steuart Walton. You can tell that Lil’ Stewie is doing a bang-up job of keeping businesses open. Never mind that the number of hospitalizations and deaths are rising at such a rate to attract national attention.
So why shut down Walmarts? Because right now, Black Lives Matter protesters have momentum. And while they remain focused on black victims of police force and violence, they also realize that this is the time to tackle other areas in which race determines who gets ahead in Arkansas and who doesn’t.
Protesters shut down Walmarts because those stores symbolize everything that is wrong in Arkansas for those who are marginalized and oppressed.
Here’s a couple of videos of respected black Little Rock leaders explaining how the Walmartization of Arkansas has hurt minorities, the poor, our K-12 students and our communities.
After these women spoke, everyone headed to the Walmart on Baseline Road. As I pulled in, a man leaving the store paused to tell me it was closed. I parked and got out to confirm. Sure enough, employees were turning away would-be shoppers. As I passed a pickup truck, I overhead its occupant, a woman, telling a man that the store was closing.
“Why?” he asked.
“The protesters are coming,” she said.