As a Wal-Mart proposed for the Sellwood neighborhood inches closer to reality, the list and voices of opponents seems to be growing.
Just last week, a few dozen parents, school children, and labor organizers gathered near SE Tacoma and McLoughlin. There were speeches from union workers, who complained about the corporation's piss poor record on child labor and union busting. And there were even speeches from seventh graders, who pledged not to buy their back-to-school supplies at the mega-store. It was all part of a growing chorus of dissent against the proposed Sellwood Wal-Mart. (For more information on the labor union's opposition check out www.WakeUpWalMart.com.)
Last week's demonstration was only the latest protest against the pending Wal-Mart store. Only two weeks earlier, Dave Mazza, long-time activist and editor of The Portland Alliance, announced the formation of a nonprofit devoted to a "long-haul fight" against the store. (For their website check out www.NoSellwoodWalMart.com.) In a tersely worded press release, Mazza explained, "The Sellwood neighborhood has immediate concerns about the impact a Wal-Mart would have on traffic, congestion, safety, and environmental quality. Also of great concern is Wal-Mart's well-publicized practices that put local businesses out of business."
Included in the group's press materials is an unequivocal statement from Multnomah County Commissioner Diane Linn, who wrote in support of the group. "I believe placing a Wal-Mart in Sellwood would be an economic detriment to hundreds of small businesses that provide a foundation for our economy," explained Linn.
But perhaps the local politician carrying the anti-Wal-Mart banner highest is City Commissioner Sam Adams. At the beginning of summer, Adams sent off a letter to Wal-Mart's CEO, in which he stated his unblinking opposition.
More recently, Adams moderated a public forum concerning the "big box invasion." That forum has continued on Adams' blog (www.commissionersam.com) with some 40 postings against the proposed store. The postings cite fights—some successful, others not—against Wal-Marts from Vermont to Chicago.
So far, Wal-Mart has yet to respond to any of the local groups.