Choreographed Protest for Immigrant Hotel Workers

From Associated Press
5:52 PM PDT, September 28, 2006

Hundreds of labor activists prepared to confront police near Los Angeles International Airport today in a highly choreographed protest aimed at unionizing mostly immigrant workers at a dozen high-end hotels.

The display of political theatrics included handing rosters of prospective arrestees to officers and training demonstrators to remain calm when they're detained.

"We don't want any surprises," said Paulina Gonzalez of Unite Here, which represents Southern California hotel workers. "We want the most peaceful event possible."

Over 1,000 protesters gathered along the edges of hotel-lined Century Blvd., listening to music and speeches by activists who demanded unionization for workers and amnesty for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the country.

Roughly 400 protesters had volunteered to be arrested for blocking rush hour traffic during sit-ins in front of hotels, organizers said.

"I decided to come here today because I want the rest of my people to be OK," said Elena Martinez, 56, a hotel worker and naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Mexico.

Volunteer arrestees had on yellow and black signs that said "I'm a human being" in English and Spanish.

Officials with Unite Here said the volunteers had their drivers' license numbers and other personal information forwarded to police to speed up processing and keep the protest from impacting regular police business.

The volunteers planned to march along Century Blvd. during rush hour traffic and stop in front of the Hilton and Weston hotels, where they expected to be arrested. ... 8935.story