Protesting poverty wages lands them in jail

ST. PAUL, Minn. — At the intersection of Snelling and University Avenues here, 26 were arrested on Black Friday afternoon, Nov. 29, for protesting poverty wages. This busy intersection is normally congested, but Friday’s protestors, seated cross-legged with arms linked in a circle, had stopped traffic completely.

Hundreds cheered from the safety of the large intersection’s four corners, holding signs, beating drums and chanting slogans such as “This is what democracy looks like!” and “The people united, will never be defeated!”

Protesters are trying to raise support for legislation raising the minimum wage. “We just want to get a fair wage for the minimum and low-wage workers.” said Christina Holly, a protester with TakeAction Minnesota. “A fair day’s work deserves fair pay.”

The Snelling-University protest followed a march past various St. Paul retailers. In addition to and in support of the Target and Walmart workers on the scene were a variety of organizations including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union, Healthcare Minnesota, the Teamsters and CPUSA. “It’s a good conglomeration of people from different service fields that said, ‘enough is enough. This is the Holidays.'” said Steve Miltich with the SEIU.

One by one, the St. Paul police read the seated protesters their rights, tied their hands, and led them to an awaiting van. The crowd greeted each protester with applause, praise, and cheers. After the last protester was arrested, the crowd headed west on University behind a large banner reading, “End Poverty Wages in Minnesota.”

Protester Darrel Paulsen said, “Hopefully this brings more light to corporate America. You can’t treat your workers like that and expect that they’re going to work for you.”

The march continued on past various Midway retailers. As I dropped out of the marching crowd, a woman in a silver SUV stopped to ask me what was happening, and when I told her that they were marching to end poverty wages, she replied, “I should join them.”

Photo: Matthew Voges/PW