PAC gathers to protest Wal-Mart business practices


Members of the Progressive Action Coalition protested at Wal-Mart in Indianola on Saturday, attempting to make their voices heard, despite a number of police officers and store managers who would not allow them, or their chicken, inside the building.

“We wanted to address exploitation, talk about sweat shop labor, the glass ceiling and other various injustices [performed] by Wal-Mart,” said Brian Depew, PAC’s spokesperson for the event.

Due to a number of obstacles, including a policepresence and the enforcement of various store policies, some of the group’s originally planned actions had to be altered.

Some members put leaflets on about 300 cars in the parking lot before Indianola Police Department detective Don Duke informed them that they were trespassing.

Dressed in a business suit, protester Brian Johnson set out with “Scuttles,” a chicken provided for the group’s purposes by a Simpson faculty member. He intended to try touse it to barter for goods. When refused, he said it would allow the opportunity to “educate” employees, and if accepted, he would require that the chicken be sent to feed foreign laborers.

The Humane Society was called. Johnson didn’t get past the front door.

Meanwhile, inside the store, a group of 15-20 people were beginning to “whirl.” This consisted of a long line of protesters wheeling empty carts around the store.

Once alerted of the growing number of officers and a barricade at the door, the whirlers filed outside. Employees confiscated their empty carts before they could leave the building.

“We decided we would do more good helping Brian Johnson outside with the chicken,” said freshman Kayla Schmidt, one of the whirlers.

Even outside the store, management would not speak about the issues the group had hoped to address. That didn’t stop the group from talking.

Joined now by several Drake students, the lively group of about 30 began chanting “Wal-Mart doesn’t care, buy your products elsewhere!” and “Hey hey, ho ho! Wal-Mart sweat shops have got to go!”

The chanting, the sight of seven patrol cars, media personnel and a chicken intrigued a large number of Wal-Mart shoppers-most of whom were simply asking, “What’s going on?”

PAC members were more than happy to answer that question.

Senior Nate Allen could be seen speaking to various people in their cars. Depew was declaring the group’s cause to the press. Johnson was explaining the purpose of the chicken.

“I’m afraid they’re not going to do any good,” stated Betty Spidle, a Wal Mart shopper observing the scene. “One person would do more than a bunch yelling.”

Depew said that the group was happy with the results.

“I’m glad we saw the large crowd here,” he said.

This protest coincided with a national day that was sponsored by Breathing Planet. Besides Indianola, protests were also occurred at Wal-Mart locations in Albany, New York City, Pittsburgh, Houston and various places in California.