A group of about 25 protesters were taken into custody today in Flint, MI, during a minimum wage protest rally at McDonald’s that was likely part of the planned nation-wide protest announced on September 2.
A crew of about 150 gathered at McDonald’s on Stewart Avenue to protest in favor of an increase in the minimum wage and for unionization. Protesters chanted, “Show them what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like!”
The roads were blocked for at least 30 minutes. Some drivers watched the protest, while others turned around. The Flint police arrived on the scene just before 12:30 in the afternoon. According to M-Live, 30 of the minimum wage protesters refused to leave the street after talking with Flint Police Chief James Tolbert.
The Michigan State Police and Genesee Count Sheriff’s Department joined the Flint police on the scene for a total of about 17 police vehicles. At about 1:00 in the afternoon, 25 minimum wage protesters — 15 women and 10 men — were taken into custody and placed on two MTA buses, where they were transported to the Flint Police Department. Similar protests were held in Lansing and Detroit.
When I arrived, the protests had already dispersed, but I was able to speak with one eyewitness who referred to it as an “impressive display of police force.” Some of the protesters reportedly encouraged the police to sit down and protest with them, telling them that they deserved higher wages, as well.
You can see pictures of the protest below, courtesy of M-Live:
McDonald’s was not amused by the protests, referring to them as “staged demonstrations” carried out by people who were “transported to fast-food restaurants.” The author of the M-Live piece posted the press release in the comments; you can read the press release here:
“McDonald’s restaurants are open for business as usual and welcoming customers. We’ve had no reports thus far of service disruptions. We reiterate that these are not “strikes” but are staged demonstrations in which people are being transported to fast-food restaurants. And, we have received reports that some participants are being paid, up to $500, to protest and get arrested.
At McDonald’s we respect everyone’s rights to peacefully protest. The topic of minimum wage goes well beyond McDonald’s- it affects our country’s entire workforce. McDonald’s and our independent franchisees support paying our valued employees fair wages aligned with a competitive marketplace. We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses – like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants – is manageable. Additionally, we believe that any increase needs to be considered in a broad context, one that considers, for example, the impact of the Affordable Care Act and its definition of “full time” employment, as well as the treatment, from a tax perspective, of investments made by businesses owners.
It’s important to know approximately 90% of our U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by franchisees who set wages according to job level and local and federal laws. McDonald’s does not determine wages set by our more than 3,000 U.S. franchisees.”
source: M-Live; cover photo from M-Live.