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Ben Harper, Tom Morello to join Chinatown Wal-Mart protest today

June 30, 2012 | 10:42 am

Singer-songwriter Ben Harper, “Rage Against the Machine” guitarist Tom Morello, civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-El Monte) will be among the disgruntled Angelenos leading a protest Saturday against a new Wal-Mart store planned for Chinatown.

A march and rally, rumored to feature lion dancers and a motorcycle brigade, will start at Los Angeles State Park at 11 a.m. and conclude with speeches against the retail giant under the dragon gates on Broadway at Cesar Chavez Avenue.

Harper and Morello will perform the pro-labor “Union Song” in front of a banner reading “Walmart = Poverty.” Morello, who plans to document the event on Instagram, tweeted Saturday: "Playing largest ever anti-Walmart rally in Chinatown @ noon w/Ben Harper. earnest halfblack protest harmonies expected.”

Organizers, who take issue with Wal-Mart's low salaries and nonunionized workforce, expect thousands to attend.

The new store, planned for 33,000 square feet on the ground floor of an apartment complex at Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues, is one of more than a dozen Neighborhood Markets that Wal-Mart hopes to open in California in coming years.

At a Tuesday event at the construction site, Kim Sentovich, senior vice president of Wal-Mart Inc.'s Pacific store division, addressed a rowdy blend of supporters and protesters.

“Everything we do,” she said, “is connected with our mission of helping people to save money so they can live better.”

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-- Danielle Paquette

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