McDonald’s employee Richard Eiker was the last of 108 people raised by police from the pavement Tuesday night at Meyer and Troost after a Fight for $15 sit-in.
Eiker, a leader in the Stand Up KC worker advocacy organization, and other protesters were arrested and charged with failure to obey a lawful order.
Those who participated in blocking the intersection were taken to four area police stations in vans and patrol cars, and it was nearly 5 a.m. Wednesday before the last of those arrested were released.
“Despite the cold pavement, people felt great about standing up for something they believe in,” said Rachel Hogan, a spokeswoman for the labor movement in Kansas City.
Low-wage fast-food workers, janitors, and child and elder care workers were joined by members of the Kansas City-area clergy and labor unions in a national day of protest about pay and civil rights.
Participants who were arrested included members of the United Auto Workers, the Communications Workers of America and the Service Employees International Union, Hogan said.
Labor unions back the Fight for $15 movement, which also focuses on the right of workers to unionize without retribution.
Protest organizers arranged “walk-back” assistance for workers who struck their jobs Tuesday. That involves accompanying employees back to their workplaces and informing their managers that the absences were protected activities under federal labor law and the workers should return to work without retribution.
Lora McDonald, executive director for the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, chose to participate in Tuesday’s sit-in for her mother.
“I was getting arrested for moms like my mom,” she said Wednesday. “For my mom, who worked two minimum-wage jobs.”
McDonald was in one of the last groups of people arrested Tuesday night. Earlier that day, she had attended a training in civil disobedience, as did the more than 100 people who were arrested for sitting in the middle of the road outside of a Kansas City McDonald’s.
After standing in a parking lot for more than an hour waiting for a transport van, McDonald was moved with another group to the East Patrol station, where it took more time to be processed, take a mugshot and get fingerprints taken.
“For me, it’s a badge of honor,” she said about being arrested. “ It’s something you have to do, if you feel compelled to do it. The consequences of not acting are so much greater than the consequences of having some kind of misdemeanor.”
Judy Ancel, director of the worker education and labor studies program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was among those arrested. She said lack of adequate transportation and booking delays at different police stations kept many of the protesters outside in the cold for a couple of hours after the sit-in ended.
“The police were pretty decent. Nobody was abusive,” Ancel said.
Protest organizers had bail bondsmen waiting when the participants were released on $100 bail bonds.
A spokesperson for Kansas City Municipal Court said 108 people were charged with failing to comply with police for not vacating a public street.
Of the 108, three were also charged with placing an obstruction on the street, while another was also charged with hindering the arrest of another for locking arms with someone being arrested. Another person was also charged with obstructing a street, obstructing and resisting arrest.
Court dates were set for January.
The Kansas City demonstrations, which began at 6 a.m. and ended about 8 p.m., were mostly peaceful. Tuesday’s arrests were the second time in the 4-year-old Fight for $15 movement that Kansas City participants intentionally blocked streets in front of a McDonald’s restaurant in acts of civil disobedience.
Eiker said the actions were necessary to show that “we stand united” as working Americans.