Walmart employees in California have organized a massive walkout to protest the company's continued sale of firearms -- especially assault rifles. A Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, was the scene of a horrific mass shooting last weekend, and now the company's employees have had enough. The walkout was followed up with petitions and social media campaigns.
The walkout reportedly began with Thomas Marshall, a manager at Walmart's e-commerce office in San Bruno, California. He urged employees at all levels to show solidarity by leaving work on Wednesday, just days after the shooting in El Paso.
Outside of the store, Marshall and his fellow protesters held a memorial for the victims killed in the El Paso shooting, as well as those murdered the following morning in Dayton, Ohio. They gathered around signs, flags and flowers, as well as wooden crosses with victims' names written on them.
It's not clear exactly how many employees took part in the walkout, partially because photos from the scene show most of the crowd in plain clothes. A few donned their employee vests, but others could have worn their own clothes knowing that they would be protesting.
Still, Marshall's message is gaining traction with an accompanying petition on Change.org. The document has over 65,700 signatures at the time of this writing, with a current goal of 75,000. Here, Marshall and his fellow organizers outlined their philosophy and demands.
"In light of these recent tragedies -- a mere snapshot of the gun violence epidemic plaguing the United States -- and in response to Corporate’s inaction, we as employees are organizing several days of action, to protest Walmart’s profit from the sale of firearms and ammunition," the petition reads.
In fairness, the petition lists some of Walmart's recent policy changes and initiatives that have benefited employees, customers and communities. This included raising the minimum age to buy a gun in the store from 18 to 21, and the removal of "products resembling assault-style rifles from its inventory."
"Nonetheless, Walmart remains one of the largest retailers of firearms in the United States, and there is a direct correlation between the number/availability of guns and the amount of mass shootings per capita."0comments
"We would like to see Walmart take a unified and public stance against guns and gun violence," the petition went on later. "We urge our leadership to cease the sale of all firearms and ammunition, ban the public open and concealed carry of weapons on company property and in all stores, and cease WALPAC donations to NRA backed -A/A+ politicians."
So far, Walmart has not issued an official response to the walkout or the petition.