Police start arresting protesters blocking La Guardia airport
Published time: January 20, 2014 18:09
Edited time: January 20, 2014 18:40
During a scheduled march early that afternoon, protesters assembled en mass on the Ninety-Fourth Street Bridge in Flushing, NY and began “occupying” the roadway.
Marching for airport worker justice at LaGuardia airport #MLK: our day!@32BJ_SEIUpic.twitter.com/0fMfoFrYWy
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) January 20, 2014
Police were reportedly arresting protesters as of 1 p.m. local time after those on the bridge failed to heed orders to disperse.
The act of civil disobedience was waged on the federal holiday held in honor of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who advocated extensively for workers’ rights during his life.
Arrests have begun at airport worker action outside of LaGuardia airport.pic.twitter.com/3FGG0NEhhK
— Jenna Pope (@BatmanWI) January 20, 2014
Employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — the body that operates LaGuardia and other major transportation hubs across the region — unsuccessfully asked that Martin Luther King Day be treated as a paid holiday, like many other government-affiliated agencies. When their requests were ignored, they planned Monday’s march in response in order to raise awareness of their employer’s practices and to have a platform to protest for better wages.
One of those on the scene, Jenna Pope, tweeted that hundreds of people had marched to the bridge outside of LaGuardia and then sat down in the street in defiance of the police’s orders to not hinder road traffic.
Others on the bridge reported that airport employees were among those being arrested during the peaceful protest. Hector Figuero, the president of 32BJ Service Employees International Union, the largest property services union in the country, was among those reportedly detained Monday afternoon, as was a United States congressman, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York).
Among those arrested today standing up in support of airport workers @LGA was congressman @cbrangel #MLKDay pic.twitter.com/QwEoeFZt7v
— Jeff Rae (@jeffrae) January 20, 2014
“No one should work full-time and live in poverty,” the 32BJ SEIU Twitter account quoted Rep. Rangel as saying during a speech shortly before his arrest.
“No one should be one pay-check away from homelessness,” the congressman told the crowd. “That’s why I’m prepared to go to jail today.”