Five arrested during protest at Walmart in San Leandro

Among the deal-seekers on Black Friday, demonstrators in San Leandro were out in force protesting big box retailer Walmart.
November 29, 2013 11:30:57 PM PST
Thousands of shoppers in the Bay Area hit the stores for Black Friday. But among the deal-seekers, demonstrators were out in force protesting big box retailer Walmart. And across the country there were lots of arrests.

Everything is back to normal now, but at 4:30 p.m. the demonstrators were in the middle of the street ignoring police. It was all part of a coordinated nationwide protest against Walmart.

"You are ordered to immediately disperse," a police officer shouted into a megaphone.

About 150 people demonstrated in the southbound lanes of Hesperian Blvd. in front of the San Leandro Walmart. Many of them, seen in green shirts, are part of an organized group of former and current Walmart employees complaining of low wages and retaliation for attempting to organize.

"We as workers have the legal right to speak out when our employers are not treating us right," former Walmart employee Dominic Ware said.

"There is no intimidation, no retaliation here at Walmart," company spokesperson Kevin Loscotoff said. "In fact, we have processes for associates to speak with management."

Former Walmart employee Natasha Bercher had this to say, "I made $8.65 and it's hard to pay rent. You know, once you pay your bills you have nothing left."

"In California the average full-time wage is over $13 an hour, 401K benefits, health that starts as low as $18 a pay period," Loscotoff said. "So we know we offer good quality jobs."

Police eventually told protesters, "You have one minute to comply."

One minute later, police arrested five demonstrators for civil disobedience. But their sacrifices still could not stop some of their own sympathizers from shopping at Walmart. Levoy Waugh says he had to buy trash bags and paper towels.

When asked if the protesters would stop him from supporting Walmart, Waugh said, "I'm supporting my kids, I'm not supporting the business."

Police reopened the street and Walmart says this store continued having a steady stream of business throughout Black Friday.

Fifteen people were arrested during a protest at a Walmart in Roseville, which is near Sacramento. Nearly 100 protesters were outside the store for two hours Friday.

Fifteen of them broke off, marched to a busy intersection, and sat down. Police say they were arrested for failing to disperse.


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