Women’s March of East Peoria’s event organizers and attendees were disappointed by the store’s disruption of the event. This event was a peaceful gathering of over 600 men, women, and children uniting in solidarity for equality, tolerance, and justice for all. Attendees were residents of this community and former Wal-Mart customers.
Event organizers cleared the parking situation with Wal-Mart management and the City of East Peoria a week before the event. Nevertheless, about 45 minutes into the march, a manager from Walmart approached and spoke to Rev. Hoke as she exited the stage. He said, “You all can have your march, but you are disrupting our business, and the people parked at Wal-Mart need to move their cars immediately or get a ticket and towed. Police have been called.” Then he simply walked away without the opportunity for discussion. Organizers contacted Wal-Mart management immediately and were again told that Wal-Mart has a business to run and we were interfering with it. Concerned over the backlash, we made this announcement to attendees and all that were parked at Wal-Mart went to move their cars, missing many inspirational speeches. It was only after attendees went inside the store to complain, noting the many open spaces still left in the parking lot, that the real issue was explained. It seems a car was parked at the loading docks and it was this vehicle that was obstructing business. Organizers apologize for this vehicle owner’s poor judgement. However, we wish that Wal-Mart had been open and forthcoming about the true nature of the problem. Simply providing a description of the offending car could have prevented this enormous disruption. Additionally, organizers received several reports that as marchers returned to Wal-Mart to move their cars, store employees at the docking area hissed slurs at them. One even followed a marcher taking pictures of her.
We would hope that Wal-Mart would be more sensitive to concerns for women’s equality considering the substantial litigation it has faced in the past concerning gender discrimination. In the historic 2011 U.S. Supreme Court case, Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 1.6 million women filed a class-action lawsuit claiming gender discrimination in pay and promotions. Even though substantial evidence was submitted to the court, the case was dismissed citing no evidence of conspiracy to discriminate. The ruling upended decades of employment discrimination law and raised serious barriers to future discrimination cases of every kind. Among many other issues, march attendees were advocating for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would ensure that gender discrimination is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. An oversight that is still missing from the Constitution despite the amendment being almost 100 years old.
Event Organizers, Speakers, and Attendees
Kathryn Modisette ⋅ Liz Lappin ⋅ Brittany Miller ⋅ Harry Elger ⋅ J Gruber CPA ⋅ Sandy Crow ⋅ Rev. Marcus Fogliano ⋅ Ella Dancey ⋅ Taylor Black ⋅ Lisa Walker ⋅ Dr. Jean Jost ⋅ Bernie Humphrey ⋅ Sonya Gravatt ⋅ Ruth Rademacker ⋅ Cindy Miller ⋅ Nancy Long ⋅ Rev. Michael Brown ⋅ Dana Garber ⋅ Rev. Lauren Padgett ⋅ Sarah Mooberry ⋅ Jean Sloan ⋅ Cari Blodgett ⋅ Jimena Lopez ⋅ Bernice Gordon-Young ⋅ S. Rule ⋅ W. Schweigert ⋅ Rev. Carole Hoke