Friday, May 29, 2009

Non-violent protest turns ugly? Duh...

Josh Dulaney's Daily Bulletin article begins as follows:

What began as a nonviolent protest by hundreds of warehouse workers led to a bloody confrontation, several arrests and snarled traffic in all directions.

View Larger Map

When I wrote about Warehouse Workers United's first protest earlier in May, I quoted from their statement. Excerpts:

Warehouse workers, local clergy, community members, and area students will participate in a civil disobedience outside the warehouse of an as-yet named major national retailer on Thursday, May 14th at 2pm....


Direct action/civil disobedience to block distribution at a major corporate warehouse. Arrests are likely.

Their second announcement began as follows:

On May 28th, Warehouse Workers United will stage a major act of civil disobedience in what has become an escalating campaign to draw attention to the economic meltdown in the Inland Empire and its impact on warehouse workers and their families.

When you say that arrests are likely at your first event, and you characterize your second event as part of "an escalating campaign," one shouldn't be surprised at what happened next.

[F]orklift driver Marq Stonestreet, 24, of Rialto drove a forklift into the intersection and stopped, to the cheers of his fellow protesters.

A group of warehouse workers linked themselves with handcuffs and duct tape to form a human wall around the forklift.

Eventually one of the drivers who was inconvenienced by the traffic snarl attempted to go through the intersection anyway in his pickup, two of the protestors hung onto the bed of the truck, a fight ensued, and police arrested people from both sides of the fight.

But will this help jobs in the Inland Empire? Not for one person, according to the Daily Bulletin.

Mike Heffner of Riverside was one of those blocked in traffic as protesters chanted, clapped, played music and sang.

He was late for work at a nearby K-Mart.

"If I don't get to work on time, I'm going to lose my job," he said.

Heffner, who said he's in a union, said he tried to explain his situation to the warehouse workers, who refused to let him through.

As you'll recall, I previously noted that Warehouse Workers United is actually sponsored by seven unions, including the Teamsters, the SEIU, and the UFCW. I'm not sure if Heffner is a member of one of those unions, but I wonder how many other union members had problems because of Warehouse Workers United's actions this week. Or in future weeks; KPCC:

Warehouse Workers United promises to organize similar actions until the companies they're targeting agree to meet with workers over their demands.

blog comments powered by Disqus