City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

September 5, 2013
Police begin arrests of Wal-Mart protesters in downtown Sacramento

Roughly 75 people are taking part in a protest against Wal-Mart at downtown's Cesar Chavez Plaza and police have begun arresting some of those involved. Sacramento police had arrested nine protesters as of 5:20 p.m.

The protesters are charging that the giant retail chain underpays its workers and has retaliated against employees who called for better jobs. The protest is one of many taking place around the country.

Assemblymembers Roger Dickinson, Richard Pan and Lorena Gonzalez were expected to attend the event, which was put together by the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, also known as OUR Walmart.

Councilman Steve Cohn was also among the protesters, Tweeting a photo from the scene. Cohn, who is running for state Assembly, voted two weeks ago to ease restrictions on big-box superstores in the city, opening the door for chains such as Wal-Mart to open more stores in Sacramento.

Cohn said he supports the effort by Wal-Mart employees to organize and said "there are different ways to address the issue of Wal-Mart mistreating its employees."

And he rejected the notion that his involvement in the protest represented an inconsistency with his recent voting record.

"We had an ordinance in place (that regulated big-box stores), other cities don't and we were losing tax dollars and revenue," he said. "That's really more an issue of the city's economy, rather than saying we're for or against Wal-Mart."

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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