Community activists protest Chicago Walmart closures at Chatham Supercenter
CHICAGO - Activists protested the closure of four Chicago Walmart stores Thursday morning in Chatham.
Walmart announced on Tuesday it is shutting down locations in Chatham, Kenwood, Lake View and Little Village.
Protesters gathered outside the Chatham Supercenter located at 8431 S. Stewart Avenue at 11 a.m. to voice their concerns.
Rev. Michael Pfleger from The Faith Community of Saint Sabina, and area elected officials led the demonstration. They threatened mass demonstrations should the company decide to move forward with the closures.
The city leaders said Chatham has come to depend on the superstore, especially seniors who rely on it to fill their prescriptions.
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"Everybody say, 'enough is enough!'" Alderman-Elect William Hall said as he led a chant outside the store.
"If Walmart leaves us, we will leave Walmart," said Father Pfleger, who threatened a protest big enough to shut down another Walmart location should the company not reconsider the closures.
"We will go from Chicago to Indiana to Michigan and every state where there is a Walmart, and the same Black and brown people who make this store, will be the same Black and brown people that walk away from this store," said Hall.
City leaders said Walmart promised to help revitalize Chatham long-term through its pharmacy, health center and Walmart teaching academy. They feel betrayed by this week's announcement.
"Walmart, you better listen," said Pfleger. "Understand that this won't be the only store you'll be closing down, because we're not going to keep supporting places that disrespect the community."
The retail giant pointed to dwindling profits as the main reason it is shuttering the Chicago locations.
"The simplest explanation is that collectively our Chicago stores have not been profitable since we opened the first one nearly 17 years ago – these stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years," the company said in a statement.
Just a day after the announcement, a woman stole six televisions from the Chatham location. Police are still searching for the offender.
The following stores will be closed by Sunday, April 16:
- #5781 Chatham Supercenter, the Walmart Health center, and the Walmart Academy, 8431 S. Stewart Ave.
- #3166 Kenwood Neighborhood Market, 4720 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
- #5645 Lakeview Neighborhood Market, 2844 N. Broadway St.
- #5646 Little Village Neighborhood Market, 2551 W. Cermak Road
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she’s incredibly disappointed by the decision, and that it’ll "create barriers to basic needs for thousands of residents."
Father Pfleger called the closures, "a total disrespect to the city."
The community is outraged by the lack of notice Walmart gave when making this decision. Residents will need to find a new way to grocery shop and fill prescriptions with less than a week notice.
State Rep. Kam Buckner says many parts of the South and West Sides of Chicago are pharmacy deserts. Many residents will be greatly effected by these closures, according to the representative.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.