McDonald's protesters arrested outside HQ
In a prelude to protests planned for the McDonald's annual shareholders meeting Thursday morning, police arrested 139 protesters on Wednesday afternoon outside McDonald's world headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.
Oak Brook police said protesters arrested for criminal trespass were from a group of 101 McDonald's workers and 38 clergy and union activists who chose to cross a police barricade.
Workers chanted "Hey McDonald's You Can't Hide, We Can See Your Greedy Side," and "No Big Macs, No Fries, Make our Wage Supersize," as the arrests were made.
The Oak Brook Police Department was assisted by several surrounding-area departments, said Officer George Peterson, a department spokesman.
Some of those arrested were uniform-wearing McDonald's employees who had come for the protest from 33 U.S. cities. Also arrested was Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, according to the union. Police could not immediately confirm that. The union is the financial and logistical backer for Fast Food Forward, the group organizing the protests.
Workers and activists — who demand $15-per-hour pay and the right for fast-food workers to try to unionize without retaliation — say they have focused on McDonald's because of its size and influence. "Workers are taking on the biggest, baddest, richest in the $200 billion fast-food industry," says Kendall Fells, leader of Fast Food Forward. "If we can bring McDonald's to the table, the road ahead will be a lot easier."
The Rev. Dr. William Barber II, head of the NAACP's North Carolina chapter, led the march onto the sprawling McDonald's campus. "We can't treat corporations like people, and people like things," he said. "A living wage is a moral mandate, and it's time for McDonald's to pay fast-food workers their just due now."
Fast Food Forward officials said more than 2,000 gathered for Wednesday's protest. McDonald's officials estimated the crowd at 600, and Oak Brook Police estimated the crowd at 1,000 to 1,500. Department spokeswoman Erica Huff said they arrived in 32 buses.
Wednesday started out as a day of cat-and-mouse among the group, police and McDonald's. The protest was planned for McDonald's U.S. headquarters building, but police closed a key road, and McDonald's had advised workers at that building to work from home.