Demonstrators took up positions outside the McDonald’s at 7th and Broadway this morning as part of a national movement to fight for $15-an-hour pay and union organizing at franchise outlets of national fast-food chains and some moved to block traffic on Broadway.
The demonstration spread into the street, with enough demonstrators to block traffic at Third and Broadway about 8:45 a.m.
The protests are encouraged by an NLRB ruling that said the parent companies of fast food franchises have substantial power over working conditions and can be considered joint employers. More details on the movement here.
Little Rock police responded to the protest. A spokesman said initially about 50 people had gathered, something of a traffic issue, even without street blockage, at the busy morning rush hour when lines typically form at the McDonald’s drive-through for coffee and Egg McMuffins.
When police told demonstrators they had to leave the street or be arrested, about a dozen refused. Arrests began, Brian Chilson reports. Observers on the sidewalk cheered the resisters. Many of the protesters came from other states, but some were local people, Chilson reports.
After 11 people were arrested, other demonstrators boarded a bus to go to another location for protest, in Memphis. The police said they’d be released after issuance of citations for disorderly conduct.
Moral: Block a street, endure some misdemeanor arrests and you pile up mountains of film footage that will likely figure prominently on local TV news tonight. We have plenty of film on our YouTube channel.
PS — Arrests were part of the program elsewhere in the U.S. too.
UPDATE: The LRPD said all 11 arrested here were cooperative. They were cited and released. One was a juvenile. Because critics of labor have been raising questions about outside agitators, the police compiled the hometowns of the others in response to press queries — three from Little Rock, one from North Little Rock, one from Pine Bluff, one from Jacksonville, one from California and three from Missouri.