The rain and a muddy farm field couldn’t keep Wal-Mart opponents away on August 27th, when anti-Wal-Mart banners were raised high over Portsmouth, Michigan, next door to a controversial Wal-Mart supercenter proposal. According to an account in the Bay City Times, the crowd was chanting “USA” and “No Wal-Mart,” as four American flags were raised along busy Route 15 for passing motorists to see. This was not your typical flag-raising event, however, even though the national anthem was played as the flags were lifted. Two of the flags, a Chinese flag and an anti-Wal-Mart flag, were then lowered to half mast. “We’re here to prevent Wal-Mart from taking over the world,” said Dr. Mark Stewart, an orthopedic surgeon who hosted the rally on his land next to the proposed Wal-Mart. Tom Johnson, who owns a grocery store in Frankenmuth, Michigan, warned that “Wal-Mart is saturating our area with stores and eliminating other businesses. That is not what America is about.” The Portsmouth Town Council approval of the Wal-Mart led to a courtroom, not to a grand opening. Opponents have filed a lawsuit charging that the township ignored zoning issue when it approved the project. A Commissioner from Bay City, Michigan told the crowd he is concerned that Wal-Mart will draw business from downtown Bay City. “We invested a lot of money to attract businesses to our city, and Wal-Mart will undercut that. Wal-Mart has a history of undercutting local businesses.” Bay County Commissioner Kim Coonan said Wal-Mart has gone to great lengths to keep unions out of its stores, lowering wages for workers. “Wal-Mart is anti-worker rights and anti-labor,” Coonan said.
Dr. Mark Stewart’s battle against Wal-Mart continues in court, and continues along Route 15 for thousands of cars to see, where the Chinese flag and Mr. Smiley are flying at half mast. For local contacts in Portsmouth, contact [email protected]