“Not in East New York and not in New York City,” said Council Member Charles Barron while speaking with the AmNews inside City Hall. “We’re declaring it a Wal-Mart free zone.”

Joining Council Members Inez Barron and Melissa Mark-Viverito and members of NYC Communities for Change, Charles Barron spoke to reporters about extending an invitation for a Brooklyn Leadership Summit later on this month. With the summit including local officials, leaders and activists, the group feels that it would be high time for New York City officials to listen to the community.

They also want East New York in Brooklyn, along with the rest of the city, to become a Wal-Mart free zone. Charles Barron explains. “Annually, Wal-Mart makes $13 billion in profits,” he said. “Annually, their CEO makes close to $30 million a year. The four Waltons [the family that owns Wal-Mart] are worth $20 billion each, and you want to pay workers $8 an hour? And if they work for five years, they go up to $11 an hour? And admitting that you don’t have to pay for health benefits because the workers can apply for Medicaid because their wages are so low? This is a disgrace.”

Several months ago, Related Companies, which owns real estate across the city, has allegedly stopped talking with supermarket chains who were interested in setting up shop on land they own near Jamaica Bay. The company’s focus has allegedly shifted to landing a Wal-Mart in the area. Both Wal-Mart and Related didn’t respond to AmNews requests.

With Wal-Mart having conquered virtually every part of America but the five boroughs, it looks like an unfair fight. Inez Barron sees things differently.

“Related has already established Gateway One [in East New York],” said Inez Barron. “Gateway One already has big box stores. It has a BJ’s. It has a Target. It has a Home Depot. We’re talking about oversaturation. We’re saying that we have enough of that. They came in before we were able to mount a political challenge…but we’re here now and we’re gonna fight the battle.”

But Wal-Mart feels that some community leaders have gotten it wrong when it comes to their company, and they believe that the activists don’t represent the majority of New Yorkers.

“New Yorkers want Wal-Mart, and we want to make access to jobs and affordable groceries more convenient,” said Senior Vice President of Wal-Mart U.S. Joe Venezia. “As we step up efforts to open stores here, we will continue to engage with the community to build even more support for what our brand can deliver.”

To prove that point, Wal-Mart commissioned a citywide poll conducted by Douglas E. Schoen, LLC, who has also polled for former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which says New Yorkers, percentage wise, like the idea of a Wal-Mart in New York City.

According to the study, no less than 59 percent of residents in Manhattan approve of a Wal-Mart in New York. In Staten Island, 66 percent of those polled approve of a Wal-Mart in New York, while 70 percent of Queens residents like the idea, 76 percent of Brooklyn residents approve and a huge number of Bronx residents (80 percent) favor a Wal-Mart in New York City.

Also, Wal-Mart’s sales data tracked New Yorkers and said that within the past 12 months, over $165 million was spent by city dwellers in stores outside of the five boroughs. Much of that money came from Manhattan ($35 million) and Queens ($80.2 million) residents.

Pollster Doug Schoen said, “Wal-Mart enjoys deep and widespread support throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Through our research, we found that New Yorkers clearly believe Wal-Mart can provide economic relief through affordable products, as well as needed jobs.” Later on Tuesday afternoon, the same day that Barron had his rally, there was a pro-Wal-Mart news conference at City Hall that included Dr. Divine Pryor of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions.

“Jobs equal public safety,” said Pryor at City Hall. “Jobs equal public health. Jobs equal economic stimulus. Jobs equal opportunities for individuals to be integrated back into their community.”

But Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute, feels that Bloomberg should look at another big box store as a model of how to do corporatism right.

“Costco actually pays decent wages and benefits,” said Lewis, who’s also the former head of ACORN in New York. “Wal-Mart is not the end all be all. They’re not the great savior. What Bloomberg should be doing is looking at businesses that actually pay their workers good wages and pay their workers with benefits.”

Charles Barron mentioned recent lawsuits against Wal-Mart accusing the chain of gender discrimination as further proof that they were “not a friendly, corporate interest coming to our communities that give living wages, health care benefits, decent pensions and decent conditions for people to work in. That’s not Wal-Mart.” But Barron wasn’t done.

“Don’t let Wal-Mart manipulate you and have unions looking for jobs for union members,” he said. “Because some unions–some–don’t care what’s built as long as they get the gigs. Don’t allow Wal-Mart to manipulate you against the people because you want to get some jobs for your union members.”

“Don’t go for low prices and jobs. That’s how they manipulate you,” continued Barron. “You think you’re gonna get a bargain on cheap goods? The wages are worse…and you’re gonna destroy the economy.”