NORWALK, Conn. -- A crowd of about 15 people stood in front of the Walmart on Connecticut Avenue in Norwalk on Tuesday evening to demand an end to inequality in the state.
The vigil was one of 24 Vigils for Inequality held throughout the state of Connecticut on Tuesday. The vigils were held in cities and towns where poverty has increased. They were organized by a coalition of groups including the Connecticut Working Families Party, Connecticut Citizens Action Group, Service Employees International Union local 32BJ, AFSCME Council 4, local chapters of Moveon.org and local organizations. In addition to Norwalk, other Fairfield County towns to host vigils included Danbury, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Shelton, Stratford and Stamford.
"We're out here to fight for the middle class, " said Norwalk Common Council member David Watts, one of the organizers of the Norwalk vigil.
He said they were specifically supporting three bills before the state legislature that would reduce economic inequality. Senate Bill 249 allows workers without retirement plans to deposit a percentage of their wages into one trust fund. House Bill 5069 would charge corporations fees for paying poverty wages. House Bill 5241 would research ways to reduce student debt.
"Sometimes it's not about profit, it's about the people and investing in people. And when people go to work they should be allowed to retire in dignity, and that's why we're out here today, to fight for those who make these companies run," Watts said.
Former Norwalk Mayor Bill Collins was among those who came to show support for the cause.
"Norwalk is a good example of inequality of income," Collins said. "We have very rich areas and very poor areas in town, and they're getting farther and farther apart, both in income and in assets. It's happening all over the country because of poor social services and inadequate taxes on the rich. So citizens have to stand up and complain about that."
Collins said it was appropriate that the vigil was taking place outside Walmart.
"Walmart is notorious for not hiring people full time," he said. "Many people who work at Walmart cannot afford to live, cannot support families."
Watts said, "We're tired of corporations paying poverty wages. We believe, especially here in Norwalk where rent is extremely high, that people should be able to live where they work. And it's getting more and more difficult for families to do that."