Minimum wage protests in Chicago, Cicero

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Thursday, September 4, 2014
Protestors arrested in Cicero
More than two dozen people were arrested in Cicero during a protest in support of raising the minimum wage.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than two dozen people were arrested in Cicero during a protest in support of raising the minimum wage.

Cicero police said 31 people were charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct after allegedly "disrupting traffic and placing themselves in harms way." Police said they offered organizers an alternative location other than busy Cicero Avenue, but it was rejected.

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"Although most of the 300 demonstrators conducted themselves properly, 31 intentionally walked to the middle of Cicero Avenue and tried to sit down in the center of the roadway to block traffic. All 31 were arrested and charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct," Town Spokesman Ray Hanania said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, minimum wage supporters gathered at a McDonald's on the city's South Side. Nineteen people were detained there, Chicago police said.

The protests are part of a national campaign to raise awareness and support for increasing the minimum wage. Protests are planned in 150 cities across the U.S. outside fast food restaurants, where many workers do not make much more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which adds up to about $15,000 a year.

Kimberly, a McDonald's employee who works in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, was led away by the arm and into a squad car.

"We can't feed no one with $8.25," Kimberly said. "So we're going to take the arrest. We're going to jail."

Many said they were prepared for this outcome, because they're fighting to support their families and their friends. Many have worked at fast food restaurants for years with only a meager raise that keeps their pay below $9 an hour.

"I'm willing and ready to do anything that it takes to get us our money," Connie Bennett said. She works at the McDonald's located at West 83rd Street and South Ashland Avenue.

Antoine Hearon is an employee at the McDonald's at the corner of East 106th Street and State Line Avenue.

"I've heard a mother say that she's considering going back to working on the street just to provide for her family," Hearon said, "because what she's making at McDonald's isn't enough

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed a minimum wage of $13 an hour for the city of Chicago. He also signed an executive order Wednesday requiring that level of compensation for all workers contracted or subcontracted by the city.