Dozens of fast-food workers in Detroit and New York City were arrested for blocking traffic while protesting for a higher minimum wage. The protests are part of a larger movement in 150 cities during which workers promised walk outs, sit-ins and civil disobedience all in the name of pushing employers and Congress to gain the right to unionize and raise the minimum wage to $15 and hour.
An NYPD source told The Wire that 19 individuals were arrested in Times Square around 7:47 a.m. local time for disorderly conduct, for blocking vehicular traffic. Activists said the protesters were being treated well:
At the 7th Precinct where some of the workers were taken. Hearing they've been treated well, process going smooth. #StrikeFastFood— Greg Basta (@GBNYChange) September 4, 2014
In Detroit, police arrested about two dozen individuals (estimates range from 20-25, or even as high as 40) who refused to stop blocking the road, out of 100 protesters who met near a McDonald's on the east side of the Detroit early in the morning, blocking the drive thru lane and the street.
Local ABC station WXYZ spoke with assistant police chief Steve Dolan, who said that anyone arrested had their name run for any arrests warrants are were released. The protests was peaceful, and according to WXYZ and Dolan some individuals complained about tight handcuffs, but police were willing to loosen them.
Thursdays protests are part of a two year effort led by the Service Employees International Union to secure a $15 minimum wage and a right for fast food workers to unionize. In New York the minimum wage was raise to $8.00 an hour at the end of last year, while in Michigan it was raised this week to $8.15.