Thousands marched through Los Angeles’ Chinatown today to protest Wal-Mart Stores Inc. moving ahead with plans to open its first store in the downtown area in 2013, the LA Wave reported. Organizers said it was one of the largest-ever demonstrations against Wal-Mart.
Demonstrators marched from Los Angeles State Historic Park to the future site of the 33,000-square-foot grocery store on the edge of Chinatown, the Contra Costa Times reported. Construction began on the store this week.
More from GlobalPost: Wal-Mart opening its first store in downtown LA
The protesters were joined by Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and folk-rocker Ben Harper, the Contra Costa Times reported.
The neighborhood has only one full-service supermarket in a 30-block radius, KTLA TV reported. But the protesters claim Wal-Mart doesn’t pay a living wage and fear it will destroy Chinatown's small, family-owned businesses.
"We all know the devastating effects this could wreak on family-owned, independent businesses in the area," protest organizers said in a statement, according to KTLA TV. "Wal-Mart is notorious for cutting employee hours, thereby denying them access to shoddy health insurance plans, or, famously assisting new hires in filling out forms to receive government benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps."
"Wal-Mart has always stood for poverty," Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, told the Contra Costa Times. "They have a business model that basically kills family-owned and small businesses.”
More from GlobalPost: Banking on Africa’s poor