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Detailed Report on Sunday's Forever 21 Demo on Santa Monica Promenade

by Kim Coger Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2002 at 8:38 AM

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) joined forces with local Garment Workers on Sunday Night in a spectacular demonstration on Santa Monica's third street promanade; specifically protesting exploitative textile manufacturer Forever 21, but also calling for an end to all economic injustice.

The Third Street Promenade never looked better as the Taco Bell boycott

contingent rapped up its carivan and joined the Forever 21 boycott effort to

take over the streets in front of, and nearby, the new Forever 21 in Santa Monica on

Sunday evening.



This was a glorious moment of the the Rise Up 2002 campaign to bring

consciousness from one coast to the next and from all over the globe to the

footsteps of the very companies exploiting workers the world over.



Not one company was spared in this tour of shame as demonstrators packed the

normally tranquil shopping citadel and marched from the mall at the south end

of the promenade up to Wilshire. Marchers stopped directly infront of stores

such as the Gap notorious for sweatshop abuses to demand "no more sweatshop

labor."

Bebe was not left out, as well dressed women couldn't help but stop in

the middle of their purchases to take notice of the marchers demands for fair

wages for sweatshop workers.



A high point of the evening occured when

demonstrators skipped to the east side of the street to address sweatshop

abuses by Tommy Hillfiger chanting directly to the clerks and customers

inside. The film Life and Debt recently screened by the Los Angeles Independent Media

Center describes Tommy Hillfigers flagrant abuse of sweatshop conditions in

the free zones of Jamaica.



The streets normally recognized by neatly trimmed lights and park benches

were filled with workers, students, organizers raising consciousness with

puppets, chants and makeshift drums. Demanding "no justice no peace" and "no

more sweatshop labor" the marchers managed to shut down foot traffic and

shopping was at a stand still for the duration of the parade.



Many demonstrators had taken part in the Rise Up 2002 workshop at UCLA

earlier that afternoon to study a larger history of political movements and

labor movements in countries such as Mexico and Brazil. Many student groups,

labor groups and other solidarity groups joined to give teach-ins about

strategy and coalition building.



At the conclusion of the march Maria Pineda a worker involved in the Forever

21 lawsuit spoke about her own conditions as a garment worker. After several

starts, her voice trembling with excitement and the audience cheering her on,

she began to speak about being forced to work for wages below the minimum

standard and being exploited by the company. Conditions in the factories have

been described as unsanitary with reports of rat and cockroach infestation.



Gerardo Reyes, a farm worker involved in the Taco Bell boycott, described the

strategy of the tour of shame demonstration at the promenade.

"Now we are destroying their image until they pay what they have to pay to

the workers"

As the two coalitions united to create a large show of force on a popular

shopping day he concluded by saying "It is important to see solidarity coast

to coast, all over the country."

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