WASHINGTON -- A huddle of damp Occupy DC protesters were treated to an intimate, politically-minded performance by hip-hop artists Head-Roc and Dead Prez Wednesday afternoon amid the tents in McPherson Square.
The concert, which got off to a slow start due to some malfunctioning audio equipment, featured performances that tackled issues ranging from racial inequality faced by African Americans to the opposition to the six Walmart locations slated to open in the District of Columbia over the next five to seven years. For a portion of the concert, Head-Roc wore a shirt emblazoned with the words "Keep DC Walmart-Free."
Head-Roc, a D.C. native, has created a name for himself as a political activist outspoken about issues surrounding D.C. statehood and the gap between wealthy elite and black poor in the city and nationwide.
Head-Roc cited a blog post he wrote Tuesday for The Huffington Post, which explained his ambivalence toward the Occupy movement. Although he supports the general sentiment behind it, he explained that it's time for the group to find leadership.
According to his HuffPost blog post:
Personally, I have reservations as to the way "Occupiers" operating in D.C. have strategized to connect with community grassroots forces already engaged in social justice advocacy work. ... As an artist and activist having worked with great organizations in D.C. for the past decade to empower and uplift fellow residents I must acknowledge, respect, and defer to the experience and wisdom of the experts working on social justice issues in our progressive community. If there's one thing I've learned over the years doing this work, it's that organizing for effective social change isn't easy, and that it's best left to the professionals.
Also in attendance: Renee Bowser, who is looking to oust D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser from her Ward 4 seat in the upcoming April Democratic primary. Renee Bowser, no relation, took the microphone and explained why she is against the proposed Walmarts.
"Walmart claims they bring jobs, but let's look at it," she told the crowd. "The second Walmart came to Alexandria -- the Shoppers Food Warehouse closed, the Dollar Store closed. They came to Capital Plaza -- the Safeway closed and the Giant closed. Now, that is not job creation. That's just a switch of jobs."
The new jobs are worse than the old, Bowswer continued, citing Walmart's policy of offering health insurance only to those who work more than 24 hours a week or more.
"What this does is shift the burden of health care to D.C.'s Healthy Families insurance program and other D.C. programs, so they're not really benefitting the community."