Black Friday protests draw hundreds, St. Paul police arrest 26

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Police arrested 26 protesters on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul on Friday after hundreds marched for better wages for janitors and retail employees, reports the Pioneer Press.

The day's protest is one of several around the country where low-paid employees used Black Friday as a stage.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that hundreds of people marched down University Avenue in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood Friday to protest low pay for retail workers.

The demonstrators marched through the area, including the parking lot of the St. Paul Walmart store, in a demonstration calling for better worker wages and a hike in the state's minimum wage.

The rally stopped traffic on University Avenue and ended with a sit-in at the intersection of University and Snelling Avenues, according to MPR.

The Pioneer Press says St. Paul-based TakeAction Minnesota and the Service Employees International Union organized the St. Paul rally to call attention to the low wages large retailers pay workers, who claim it isn't enough to live on. There were several such protests around the United States Friday, including one with 10 arrests in Chicago.

The St. Paul paper also notes that one by one, police read 26 protesters their rights and "arrested them without struggle as a crowd cheered."

WCCO reports that a number of contract cleaning workers walked off their jobs at big companies in the Twin Cities Friday, including the Target store in Apple Valley. The protest was organized by Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha to protest low wages and harsh working conditions.

KARE 11 reports the protests are part of a strike by retail workers at Walmart in Brooklyn Center and by cleaners at the downtown Target.

"Despite the fact that there were over $20 billion in sales over the Black Friday weekend last year, many of the workers who help bring in these profits are forced to survive on poverty wages," organizers said in a statement. The statement said taxpayers have to subsidize low-wage workers through government assistance programs.

Nationally, CBS News said protests are underway at 1,500 Walmarts, including stores in Minneapolis. Activists want Walmart to pay a minimum annual salary of $25,000 and offer more full-time jobs.

Using the hashtag Make Holidays Happen and OurWalmart, activists are using social media to draw attention to the plight of low-wage workers across the country.

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