Protesters arrested outside Wal-Mart in Paramount

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A small number of protesters outside a Wal-Mart in Paramount were arrested peacefully early Friday afternoon as part of a Black Friday demonstration against the retail giant’s labor practices, authorities said.

TV footage showed handcuffed protesters being put into booking vans in the middle of Lakewood Boulevard.


Sheriff’s officials said about 1,000 people protested at the Wal-Mart before noon, although it was unclear how many were actual employees. Union members and others were among the demonstrators.

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Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker said nine people were arrested. Elizabeth Brennan of Warehouse Workers United said three Wal-Mart employees were among the arrested, according to the Associated Press. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dale Ryken said it had been expected that some people seeking to practice civil disobedience would be arrested after refusing an order to disperse.

“The whole thing was going to be a peaceful demonstration,” Ryken said. “It was understood that they would send 10 to 15 people [at once] to get arrested.”

Protest organizers said demonstrators are speaking out against “reductions in hours, changes in scheduling and even firings.” They accuse the retailer of retaliating against employees who speak out about work conditions at Wal-Mart.

In a statement, the retailer called this year’s the best Black Friday, saying the crowds were larger than last year. Almost 10 million cash register transactions were made from 8 p.m. Thursday to midnight, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said.

Bill Simon, Wal-Mart U.S. chief executive, dismissed the impact of the protests.

“Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Wal-Mart associates,” he said. “We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide.”


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-- Hector Becerra