Episcopal News Service Friday, September 29, 2006
L.A. Labor protest draws 2,000, hundreds arrested
By Pat McCaughan
[ENS, LOS ANGELES] -- At least 2,000 demonstrators closed Century Boulevard near the Los Angeles International Airport during the Thursday, September 29, evening rush hour in protest of low wages for immigrant workers at nearby hotels.
Authorities arrested about 400 protestors, including clergy and state and local officials, who staged peaceful sit-ins after a short march to the Hilton Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the nearby Westin Hotel.
After a 5 p.m. rally, a stream of families, students, clergy and workers poured into the streets near the airport, waving signs and banners reading "Soy Un Ser Hermano (I Am A Human Being)" and "Amnistia: Derechos Pienos para los Immigrantes (Amnesty: Full Rights for Immigrants)." The marchers alternately chanted: "Boycott Hilton," "No Justice, No Peace" and "Si Se Puede" to the steady beat of drums.
The Rev. Canon Dick Gillett, among those arrested, said Thursday's protest was meant to underscore "the rights of low-wage workers to organize, and hotel management's refusal to recognize the dignity and rights of hotel workers.
"We are here to call attention to the unsafe and unfair working conditions of low-wage workers and the way they are treated when they try to exercise their rights. Their wages are not enough to keep a family of four at a decent level of income," said Gillett, 75, who is minister for social justice for the Diocese of Los Angeles and a member of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, or CLUE, an organizer of the march.
The gathering included the blessing, breaking and sharing of bread by the Rev. Joe Frazier, rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Torrance; the sounding of the ram's horn and distribution of flowers to marchers. The multi-ethnic, multi-faith crowd of supporters lined the streets and cheered as police placed Gillett and others in plastic handcuffs and led them to waiting buses for the trip to jail.
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