Durham protesters demanding wage increase arrested

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Workers protest for increase in minimum pay
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At least 23 were arrested in Durham during a protest on North Roxboro Street.

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Protesters in Durham blocked traffic on North Roxboro Street Tuesday evening, demanding a minimum-wage increase to $15 an hour. At least 53 were arrested.

Led by the NC NAACP, demonstrators sat down in the road and chanted. Police in riot gear arrived soon after.

Durham Police told ABC11 that at least 53 people had been arrested near a McDonald's and an Arby's restaurants on N. Roxboro Street. One of the arrests was NC NAACP leader the Rev. William Barber.

"The President-Elect today said that burning the American flag ought to be illegal, you lose your citizenship," Barber said. "Well, what ought to be illegal is people working 40 hours a week and can't feed their families.""

Those arrested will be charged with impeding the flow of traffic, a police official said. The number of arrests could still rise as police process those apprehended.

Later Tuesday, Barber got out of jail. He confirmed to ABC11 that the entire group at the jail was waiting to be processed and said the protests were in conjunction with other minimum-wage protests and arrests across the country.

"People can't live on $7.25," Barber said.

Altha Cravey, one of the protesters arrested, said she is a geography professor at UNC Chapel Hill.

"I believe in the fight for 15, I believe conditions in universities are very similar to conditions in fast food industry and the home health care industry," Cravey said.

Earlier in the day, dozens of Triangle residents spent Tuesday night marching instead of working, some only making the minimum wage.

"I'm a single mother and quite frankly, I'm dying," said one fast food worker.

There were a series of rallies held throughout the Triangle. The protests are taking place across the country.

A small crowd gathered outside the governor's mansion urging Gov. Pat McCrory to make a change.

Demonstrators brought a megaphone and chanted, "If we don't get it, shut it down."

Hilda Edmundson helped lead the charge. She is a home health care worker and makes $9 an hour. At 52-years-old, she can't afford her own place and often lived with her clients.

"It's not a life for nobody, it really isn't," she said.

Protesters want minimum wage to be increased to $15 an hour

Conservatives believe such an increase could ruin our economy.

The John Locke Foundation, a nonprofit think tank, did a study recently and estimates the move could cost the state more than 330,000 jobs.

Spokesperson Mitch Kokai says employers won't be able to maintain their workforce with a $15 per hour

"They're just not going to hire those people. They're going to find ways to do more with less. They're going to find way to rely more on automation. They're going to find ways to deal with the new government rule forcing them to pay more than are able to pay," said Kokai.

Workers think the increase will offer a better way of life.

"We have plenty of hard working individuals who try to take care of their families," said Edmundson.

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