A Black Friday protest in front of a Paramount Walmart ended with nine people arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs. The November 23rd protest was mostly peaceful until a handful of protesters refused to move away from their positions blocking traffic lanes.
The protest started when several people gathered in front of a Walmart on 14501 Lakewood Boulevard at 7:00 AM , several of whom identified themselves as Walmart employees. By 10:40 AM the protest had swelled to approximately 1,000 participants, having arrived in 3 buses and personal cars.
The protest didn’t attract police attention until 11:00 AM. Up until that point, protesters had only protested in front of the entrance and were not impeding customers from entering. But at 11:00 AM, protesters began to gather on the sidewalk of Lakewood Boulevard and at 11:40 AM, hundreds of participants began to flood onto Lakewood and Century Boulevard, blocking traffic.
Five minutes later, LASD deputies told the protesters blocking traffic to disperse. A majority of the protesters returned to the sidewalks while vocally encouraging the nine remaining protesters that were stationed on the southbound lane of Lakewood Boulevard.
At 11:50 AM, police approached the remaining protesters peacefully and without force. Even the arrests had a sense of cooperation. According to LASD Captain Mike Parker, the final protesters had informed officers of their intent to be arrested.
The protest ended shortly after the nine participants were arrested, with most protesters returning to their buses or cars. By 12:20 PM, police reduced their numbers from 40, including officers on motorcycles and helicopter, to three.
The nine protesters arrested were booked at the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station for misdemeanor Refusal to Disperse. None were were required to post bail and were released unless they had outstanding warrants.
Walmart told the Los Angeles times that 26 protests were coordinated across the country, with less than 50 employees taking part.
Unlike the recent anti-corporate Occupy protests, authorities seemed satisfied with the outcome of the protest, despite the brief traffic blockage and arrests.
“Members of the public chose to exercise their Constitutional Rights to free speech and assembly,” said Lakewood Sheriff’s Station Lieutenant Minh Dinh. “Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were on scene to facilitate those rights, as well as the rights of the shoppers to shop, and travelers to drive down the street. Nine arrests were made for Refusal to Disperse when protesters blocked traffic lanes and peacefully refused to leave. This was a peaceful protest.”
Los Angeles Times: In Paramount, Wal-Mart Black Friday protest swells to 100 people
CBS Los Angeles: Arrests Made During Walmart Protest In Paramount