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Group protests at site of proposed Southfield Walmart location

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By Ronnie Dahl
Fox 2 News


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- At the site of a proposed Walmart Monday, a small, yet passionate group stood out in the bitter cold to let their voices be heard.

"I have three grandchildren and three great grandchildren and I want them safe," said Kae Halonen.  "If I can't do the things that help protect my children like make sure there's tough regulations on guns, make sure that people cannot go into a store like Walmart and buy whatever they want or rip off ammunition, I have failed my job as a mother, as a grandmother and a great grandmother."

The protest backed by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition choose Martin Luther King, Junior Day to speak out.  The civil rights leader was an advocate for peace and worker rights.

"Dr. King was a man of peace and he was also a man who believed in respecting workers' rights.  We believe Walmart corporation is very symbolic of what's wrong in America as it relates to workers' rights, dignity in the workplace and also as it relates to the distribution and access to firearms in this country," said Rev. D. Alexander Bullock, director of Rainbow PUSH Michigan.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Walmart said, "The proposed Southfield store will not be selling firearms.  In addition, we don't sell handguns in the continental U.S.  We don't sell high capacity magazines as an accessory."

If the deal is approved, the new Walmart store would replace the Church of St. Bede at the corner of Twelve Mile and Southfield Road.  The church is now empty and the lot is decaying.  The store would bring jobs, but some residents believe those jobs would come at a cost.

"We don't want a [Walmart] here.  Our traffic is already congested.  It will be much more congested.  We have businesses here that have been here for years that [Walmart] would just put out of business," said Regoma Favors.

Walmart is still in the process of getting approval for the project from the Southfield City Council.  A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for next week.

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