by Bob Geary
"Pope is Poison," was the theme of the NC HEAT leaflets. "Our aim is to hit Pope where he can feel it — in his wallet."
So today a small group of students — NC HEAT members — picketed the Maxway store on Poole Road in Southeast Raleigh, attempting to dissuade customers from buying there if they don't like what Art Pope's been doing with the profits. (Including helping to install Ron Margiotta as Wake school board chair.)
In the first 45 minutes, organizer Elena Everett said, the protesters succeeded with eight drivers who were heading for the parking lot but turned around instead.
Who's Art Pope? Well, that's the problem, said Mimi Pomeroy, a parent who drove up from Apex to join the students' protest. No doubt, she said and I agreed, few of the people who buy at Maxway have any idea:
* that it's part of the Variety Wholesalers Inc. chain;
* that the chain, consisting of more than 400 stores, is a family business controlled by Art Pope;
* that Art Pope is the enormously wealthy backer of all things right-wing Republican in Wake County and North Carolina — including the Wake County school board majority, the majority on the Wake County Board of Commissioners, and of late both houses of the N.C. General Assembly.
They should also understand that Variety Wholesalers specializes in selling cheap (in all senses of the word) goods made in third-world countries to Americans living in low-income communities.
Most of the students on hand were part of the NC HEAT forum with Superintendent Tony Tata Thursday night, a very interesting session if you haven't heard about it.
Pomeroy was new to the cast of characters, and we chatted for a bit. She was disappointed, rightly so, that the Democratic Party didn't get behind the protest, especially since we both remembered that the "Party" — I put the word in quotes for good reason — announced prior to last fall's elections that they'd be going after Pope's stores themselves. Yeah, right. (Come to find out, it's still on the NCDP website.)
Democratic Party turnout beyond the NC HEAT group? Zero. (One, counting Pomeroy, who said she forwarded the information she received about the protest to the Wake Democratic Party.)
Maybe next time?