Midwest Protest-fest Trader Joe’s protests Chicago, Milwaukee

Friday, Sept. 9th marked the Grand Opening for the new South Loop Trader Joe’s.

Farmworkers waited patiently at a morning ribbon-cutting ceremony behind a plastic lei “ribbon” for a chance to deliver manager letters to the new store manager…

… only to be approached by a woman before the official store opening who preemptively asked the delegation to stay out of the store. They later found out that the man was the Trader Joe’s Regional Vice President. At least this man above, the 2nd Ward Alderman representing the neighborhood where the new store is located, bothered to listen to the delegation’s concerns.

Throughout the day there was buzz on twitter and in the local blogosphere about the grand opening protest. By 5 o’clock pm, not even the rain could keep over 80 people from joining farmworkers in protest! The crowd’s sentiment was summed up in a quote by one Chicago Fair Food member (and long-time Trader Joe’s customer):

“I have high blood pressure and have found affordable healthy food here at Trader Joe’s for years but the moment that the CIW asks me to stand with them and stop buying from here, I will do so in a heartbeat…and you do know that no one ever forgets a boycott, right?”

The next day, Fair Food forces gathered in nearby Milwaukee for a second Trader Joe’s protest of the weekend. This one was a little different in that the Trader Joe’s store was located in a strip mall where the owners threatened to arrest anyone on the mall property in front of the store.

So… protesters split up, with groups fanning out to each…

… and every corner surrounding the Trader Joe’s store, filling the air with sounds of Son Jarocho music and Yoruba African drumming…

…until over 100 CIW supporters filled 3 street corner sidewalks, surrounding Trader Joe’s with cries for justice!

One of the protesters wrote:

“After more than two hours of protest, It was clear our job was done…for the day. Trader Joe’s heard our message loud and clear. CIW supporters left them with the haunting chant ‘We’ll be back! We’ll be back!’ (back home, that is and back to their own local stores – all across the country).”