- Jul 11, 2004
I was reading somewhere else where this person sat in at Sheehan camp democarcy, and he wrote about how there was one session on how to be arrested.....
LOS ANGELES - About 300 protesters demanding unionization for hotel workers were arrested Thursday in a carefully choreographed, peaceful demonstration that shut down part of a busy thoroughfare near Los Angeles International Airport.
The arrests came after months of coordination between national hotel workers' unions, labor leaders, immigrant groups and police, who advised the organizers on how to proceed without endangering public safety.
The unusual collaboration led to an uneventful end to the afternoon march and rally in which several thousand supporters demonstrated on the sidewalk as at least 300 protesters sat on Century Blvd. waiting to be arrested, police said. They protesters were supporting a drive to organize the mostly immigrant, nonunion workers employed at 13 hotels near the airport.
"We hope to get better benefits, like health insurance coverage for our family, better wages, a lighter workload and respect, because right now we are being treated like slaves," said Evelina Alvarez, 55, a Mexican national and housekeeper at the Westin Los Angeles Airport hotel near the airport.
Westin spokesman Fred Muir rejected allegations that hotel workers were poorly paid.
Employees "have a pretty complete salary and benefits package, which includes health care, paid vacations, paid sick time and numerous paid holidays," Muir said.
For months, protest organizers trained volunteers who pledged to be arrested on how to remain calm even when they're detained. They even took the names and personal information of those volunteers and passed them on to police to expedite the booking process.
The event began off hotel-lined Century Blvd., where hotel workers, students and union supporters gathered to watch singer Ben Harper perform and listen to pro-immigrant and unionization speeches.
After walking about a quarter mile along the boulevard, forcing the closure of all lanes, several dozen protesters sat down in the middle of the road in front of the Hilton and Westin hotels.
Protesters who had volunteer to be handcuffed wore yellow and black signs that said "I'm a human being" in English and Spanish to distinguish themselves from other demonstrators.
The road closure "had a mild affect" on passengers leaving and entering LAX, said airport spokesman Tom Winfrey.
Those arrested were taken to jail facilities where they were cited for unlawful assembly, said Los Angeles police spokeswoman Mary Grady.