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story.lead_photo.caption Protestors block Broadway Street in downtown Little Rock on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, to ask for higher wages. Some chanted: "Make our wages super-sized."

Little Rock police on Thursday morning arrested 11 protesters demonstrating for higher pay for fast-food workers.

Officers got a call from protesters about 8 a.m. and responded to ensure order. By that time, demonstrators were blocking the thoroughfare at Seventh and Broadway, eventually moving to Third and Broadway, where some were arrested.

“To my understanding they are protesting the minimum-wage law,” Little Rock Police Department spokesman Lt. Sidney Allen said in an emailed statement. About 50 to 60 were demonstrating peacefully, Allen said.

Hundreds of workers from McDonald's, Taco Bell, Wendy's and other fast-food chains were expected to walk off their jobs Thursday, according to labor organizers of the latest national protest to push the companies to pay their employees at least $15 an hour, The Associated Press reported.

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.

Twanna Scales, 36, of North Little Rock says she makes only $800 a month, with no benefits, and is supporting three sons.

"It's really a struggle out here," she said, noting that workers have to become managers to be offered benefits.

Some of the protesters chanted, "Make our wages super-sized," before they started to walk down Broadway, moving north from Seventh Street to Third. Traffic started to become clogged during the morning commute downtown.

By 8:50 a.m., police told protesters their demonstration amounted to unlawful assembly and if they did not move, they would be charged. Officers warned protesters three times to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk before they started making arrests shortly thereafter. Allen said 11 were arrested on disorderly conduct charges, adding that all have been cited and released.

The names of those arrested are: Britney Johnson 25, Chris Lairy, 30, Anthoney Porter, 23, Robert Watkins, 32, and Justin Seville, 25, all of Little Rock; Kierre Warren, 22, of Pine Bluff; Maria Leaks, 20, of Jacksonville; Shnette Hooker, 43, Akil Poynter, 20, and Benjamin Patterson, 21, all of St. Louis. An unidentified juvenile protester was also taken into custody, cited and released, Allen said.

The protest was over by about 9 a.m., with demonstrators saying, "We'll be back" as they loaded onto a bus headed to protest in Memphis.

Protests were planned at fast-food restaurants in about 150 cities nationwide to draw attention to the "Fight for $15" campaign, which is backed financially by the Service Employees International Union and others. Police handcuffed several protesters in New York and Detroit on Thursday as they blocked traffic.

In New York, at least three people wearing McDonald's uniforms were hauled away by police officers after standing in the middle of a busy street near Times Square. About two dozen protesters were handcuffed in Detroit after they wouldn't move out of a street near a McDonald's restaurant. In Chicago, a couple of buses unloaded a group in front of a McDonald's restaurant, chanting "Stand up. Fight Back," while 100 people crowded on the sidewalk.

Read Friday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Photo by Jessica Seaman
Little Rock police block Broadway Street as McDonald's protesters stand at Broadway and Third on Thursday morning, Sept. 4, 2014.
Photo by Jessica Seaman
A McDonald's protester's sign in downtown Little Rock on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.
Gallery: Protest blocks downtown streets

Information for this article was contributed by Katie Doherty and Ashley Nerbovig of Arkansas Online, Jessica Seaman of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and by The Associated Press.


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Archived Comments

  • PenLR
    September 4, 2014 at 8:52 a.m.

    How much will a big mac cost if they double the minimum wage? Double? And how many jobs will be lost? Half? You are only hurting- not helping - the poor. If you want to make more, get some skills! How about protesting for more funding for Vo-tech schools or better jobs instead of more pay for the same job?

  • Slak
    September 4, 2014 at 9:06 a.m.

    Service Employees International Union = ACORN = Communists = Obama
    Communists do not understand economics. They think there is actually such a thing as a free lunch and money grows on trees.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    September 4, 2014 at 9:12 a.m.

    They have some real nice looking signs. Wounder how much they cost, and who paid for them?

  • ThinkFree
    September 4, 2014 at 9:36 a.m.

    Wages are usually half of the cost of the product. Materials (meat, buns, soft drinks) and facilities account for 35% and profit is usually around 15% of the price we as consumers pay. Raise the cost of production and you'll raise the cost of the product.
    It's very simple, raising wages without raising productivity is inflationary.

  • Dontcallmenames
    September 4, 2014 at 9:40 a.m.

    Unfortunately, these lunatics vote, as well as other like-minded, low-information individuals. Too may of these in our state will not bode well for our future.

  • Garycmillerlawgmailcom
    September 4, 2014 at 9:52 a.m.

    You guys must learn your economics from the back of cereal boxes. That being said, do these people actually think that it will help their cause to be hollering and blocking traffic, and diverting the police from their more important work?

  • pcrasehotmailcom
    September 4, 2014 at 9:59 a.m.

    The labor market is subject to the same law of supply and demand as the economy in general. If a company cannot get people to come to work for X per hour, then that company will have to raise wages to the point that it becomes attractive to work there. So long as there are people willing to work for X, then wages will not likely rise. If folks don't want to make $7.25 per hour then go find a job that pays more. If you're not qualified for a job that pays more, then go get qualified. If you say your problem is you have 3 kids and your a single mother, then quit having kids you can't support.

  • windsor2200
    September 4, 2014 at 10:01 a.m.

    I'm trying to understand the attitude here. If folks stay on welfare cause low skill jobs don't pay enought to live, that's bad. If folks take a low skill job, but ask for enough to live on, that's bad. And paying more for your burger so folks can make enough to live on is bad. Oh, I just remembered what's good, big profits for corporations. My bad.

  • HenryP
    September 4, 2014 at 10:02 a.m.

    All of my 14 employees make a lot more than minimum wage. Even John and he can't read or write. When an employee tells me how to do my 60 hour a week owner/manager job they are gone.....

  • LR1955
    September 4, 2014 at 10:03 a.m.

    Prices don't have to increase, food portions could decrease. Future conversation at McDonalds, "I'll take one of those 7/32nd pounders please, and an order of micro-fries too"