DETROIT (WWJ) – What started as a peaceful protest aimed at raising the minimum wage resulted in dozens of arrests after protesters spilled into the street outside of a McDonald’s restaurant in Detroit, blocking the road to traffic.
The scene unfolded before sunrise Tuesday at the McDonald’s along Grand River Avenue and Schaefer Highway, on the city’s west side.
As more protesters gathered at the scene, police arrived to maintain order. But the crowd continued to grow and protesters started rallying in the street — some even locked arms and sat in the middle of the road.
“We work, we sweat. Put 15 on our check,” the crowd chanted. “If we don’t get it, shut it down.”
After multiple commands to get out of the street or face arrest went ignored, officers — some dressed in riot gear — stepped into action and handcuffed dozens of protesters with zip-ties.
“Always, the Detroit Police Department respects the right to peaceful assembly, peaceful protest, but we cannot deal with disobedience,” said Commander Elvin Barren.
About 50 people were arrested. They were loaded onto seven police department buses and taken away from the scene.
“It’s OK, we’re going to pay their bail,” said Rev. W.J. Rideout, who helped organize the protest. “We got lawyers, we got bail-bonds and we have the money. Just don’t hurt my people.”
As Rideout put it, “jail is nothing.”
“We have our money. We have our lawyers. Right here, right now, we’re ready,” he said. “This is worth it to let people know that we’re serious and we’re going to keep fighting until we get $15 and a union.”
One woman was smiling as she was placed in handcuffs. “It’s for a good cause,” she said. “The people deserve it.”
Another woman who was arrested shared the same sentiment.
“I’m taken away because I have a right and I’ll fight,” she said. “I have to pay bills, too. I’m tired of picking and choosing, a light bill or gas bill.”
“You’ve got to go what is right,” said Anthony Stevenson, who was among the crowd. “If I get arrested today for marching, doing something right to help the people get $15 an hour, then so be it.”
— Charlie Langton (@charlielangton) November 29, 2016