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By Michael Herzenberg

July 21, 2011

Several dozen protesters hit the streets Thursday to denounce Walmart once again.

This time they took aim at another company, as well, handing a letter to a representative of Related Companies to demand that it stop negotiating with Walmart to lease a property in East New York to the big box chain.

Activists also want the developer to hold public hearings on its plans.

"It seems to me they're trying to bring Walmart in under the table,” said one protester. “We don't need Walmart in our community."

"Cheap stuff comes at a high cost," said another.

Walmart has come under fire for allegations of paying low wages, discriminating against women and minorities and employing anti-union policies. Company representatives deny these claims.

"We have a court system here — we still live in a democracy that decides those things,” said Dennis Taylor of East New York. “But we're talking about economics now."

Taylor works in East New York. He said that he sees the need for companies like Walmart to invest in his community.

"It's not only about jobs with Walmart,” said Taylor. “We want the economic impact that a Walmart can bring in our community."

Recently Walmart has appeared to mount a public relations offensive: pledging $4 million to support the city's Summer Youth Employment Program and joining other retailers getting behind First Lady Michelle Obama's efforts to combat childhood obesity.

These efforts did not sway those braving the heat to protest what they see as a billion dollar marketing campaign.

"They're doing a multi-billion dollar campaign to buy their way into this city,” said Bertha Lewis of The Black Institute. “They've saturated every place else in the country. We just don't need a Walmart."

A spokesperson for Walmart said the company has not yet signed a deal anywhere in New York City. Representatives from Related Companies have said they won't comment on any negotiations the organization may or may not be having.

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