DETROIT – Detroit police arrested several people who were protesting Thursday morning by sitting across Mack Avenue.
About 100 protesters marched through the parking lot of an east-side Detroit McDonald's off Mack Avenue just south of Warren Avenue before dawn, shouting slogans and bottling up the drive-thru lane.
The protestors were part of the D15 campaign, which is a collaboration of fast food workers and their supporters who want a $15 hourly wage and the right to form a union. Organizers had said they planned to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience.
The movement, which is backed financially by the Service Employees International Union and others, has gained national attention at a time when the wage gap between the poor and the rich has become a hot political issue. Many fast-food workers do not make much more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which adds up to about $15,000 a year for 40 hours a week.
President Barack Obama mentioned the campaign earlier this week at a Labor Day appearance in Milwaukee.
"There's a national movement going on made up of fast food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity," Obama said, as he pushed Congress to raise the minimum wage. "If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, I'd join a union."
The National Restaurant Association, on the other hand, said in a statement that the protests are an attempt by unions to "boost their dwindling membership." The industry lobbying group said it hopes organizers will be respectful to customers and workers during the protests.
Minimum wage in Michigan was just increased on Monday from $7.40 an hour to $8.15 an hour.
Statement from the Detroit Police Department:
At 6:45 this morning, the Detroit Police Department was called to the area of Mack and Canyon on the city's eastside where a group of protesters had gathered in front of the McDonalds to express their concerns over minimum wage. When Police arrived on scene there were between 100 and 125 protesters at the location.
The Detroit Police Department recognizes the right for citizens to assemble and protest. However, it must be understood that there are still laws as it pertains to protesting. Citizens engaged in protesting cannot become disorderly, block or impede the movement of other citizens or attempt to infringe on the rights of other citizens.
Unfortunately, there were several individuals involved in today's protest who did engage in these activities. Our Officers were compelled to ticket or arrest those individuals involved in the illegal activity. As a result, twenty-four protesters were ticketed and released for disorderly conduct as well as six people arrested for outstanding traffic warrants. No force was used during any of these arrests and all of the protesters were compliant during the processing phase.