Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fast-food protesters who blocked Spring Street get $200 fines

Workers demanded $15-an-hour wage, received tickets for disorderly conduct

Posted by Paul Bowers on Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Protesters spread across Spring Street last Thursday afternoon, blocking traffic for about an hour. Today 10 of the protesters had their day in court. - PAUL BOWERS
  • Paul Bowers
  • Protesters spread across Spring Street last Thursday afternoon, blocking traffic for about an hour. Today 10 of the protesters had their day in court.

Ten of the 19 fast-food workers who blocked traffic on the Crosstown for an hour last Thursday in an act of civil disobedience received $200 fines in a Charleston municipal courtroom this morning. The remaining nine workers will face a judge on Friday.

All 10 of the defendants in court this morning pleaded guilty to public disorderly conduct. Judge Alesia Rico Flores ordered each of them to pay a $200 fine or spend 10 days in jail. Some of the workers indicated that an outside group was going to pay their fines. Cameron Blazer, an attorney at Savage Law Firm who represented the fast-food workers in court, declined to comment on who was picking up the $2,000 cost.

Blazer said her firm took the case because it was "interested in the rights of all people."

"I realize they're in a place that's not particularly hospitable to what they're asking, so they're that much braver for doing it," Blazer said.

The workers, who are seeking $15-an-hour wages, stood (and eventually sat down) near a McDonald's on Spring Street last Thursday afternoon, forcing police to re-route traffic a block ahead and causing massive delays on the Crosstown. Unlike in other cities where similar protests took place, no one was taken to jail. But 19 workers were ticketed and released for public disorderly conduct, and they faced maximum penalties of $262 or 30 days in jail if found guilty. According to Blazer, since the defendants were not booked in jail, the incident will not appear on the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, which is used for standard SLED background checks.

Erica Cokley, an employee at a Taco Bell on Dorchester Road, said she thought the protest opened some people's eyes, even if it didn't have an immediate impact.

"I've seen the pros and cons as far as the ones who want the $15 and the ones who think we're idiots for coming out and asking," Cokley said.

None of the fast-food workers present in court said that they had lost their jobs due to the protest.

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