Photos coming soon...
Los Angeles, CA July 20 organized by Cal State students and professors
About 20 people leafletted, petitioned, and talked to customers. We had tomato shaped red picket signs, a "Let Freedom Ring" bell shaped one, and a big banner with a chihuahua proclaiming "Yo NO quiero Taco Bell."
The best part was the enthusiastic response from the community. East LA is a historically Mexican part of Los Angeles, and the Taco Bell is on the corner of CESAR CHAVEZ and Atlantic. Many people still remember the heroic struggle of farm workers in California, and young people grew up hearing about it. When people hear about the conditions that farmworkers face in Florida there is a strong identification. Low wage and sweatshop workers here can relate to the "sweatshops in the fields" of Immokalee. Our leaflets were gobbled up and hardly a minute went by without enthusiastic honking.
The manager came out twice, first friendly and polite, and the second time genuinely worried about the level of enthusiasm from the neighborhood. The second time he recognized four young skateborders with picket signs. "You eat here EVERYDAY," he complained. "Not anymore!" one of the youth replied. It was outstanding.
There was so much excitement we decided to do the pickets
every Friday at 6pm from now until the CIW truth tour arrives
in LA in late September. By then we expect the pickets to swell
mightily and cause even greater consternation for TB management.
Knoxville, TN July 20 organized by Jobs with Justice and UNITE!
One of the organizers of the Knoxville action describes how it went: "Our action in Knoxville went very well. We had about 40 people with signs on the sidewalk in front of the Taco Bell on Cumberland Avenue. This location is on a busy street near the University of Tennessee. We got a strong reaction out of the Taco Bell management. Three police cars were called, the manager threatened us with trespassing and gave us the finger. The area manager came and was pretty exercised too. He also threatened us with trespassing. Despite the threats and the police backing the management, we marched on to the property and confronted the manager up close. We were polite but held our ground. We asked him to call Emil and he assured us that the corporate office already knew we were there. We left with chants of 'We'll be back'."
Auburn, AL July 21 at the Southern Girls Convention
A first-hand account from an entusiastic participant in the demonstration who attended the Southern Girls Convention: "A large group of participants from the conference put together a spontaneous TAKING BACK THE STREETS at about 8:30 PM. We spontaneously took over the roads, held up traffic, marched straight to the nearby Taco Bell and went IN! Never seen anything like it in my life... About 60 - 75 "radical cheerleaders" (some with bandanas covering their faces, some with sparkly cheerleading outfits) strolled on in to the Taco Bell like it was THEIRS, got up on the chairs and tables and started shaking their booties like crazy -- singing, dancing, and cheering, "HEY, TACO BELL - You gotta LISTEN, LISTEN cuz we ain't KIDDIN', KIDDIN', and we are STAYIN', STAYIN' til you start PAYIN', PAYIN... A LIVING WAGE (4 claps) for our BLOOD (4 claps), our SWEAT (4 claps) and TEARS (4 claps). They chanted this for what seemed to be hours -- having a grand old time -- someone even started swinging from the hanging lights above the tables. Needless to say, the customers headed DIRECTLY out the door with their food still in their hands.
These folks were very organized. They "took back the streets" in a very tight group -- no strays or anyone lagging behind. They sang and danced and shouted at the top of their lungs -- so much so that passersby could only smile and laugh along with them. They had photocopied small Taco Bell handouts (we had no idea that they were planning this!) and made sure to put people in charge of handing them out.
Once inside of Taco Bell, they didn't yell or shout or confront the employees -- they just handed them the info on the boycott and then literally had themselves a party. The employees were cracking up!! Finally, the manager DID call the police, and when the group saw this happening, they quickly exited, made SURE no one was left behind, and then strolled away (on the sidewalks this time, not the streets). The police arrived at an empty Taco Bell and had to follow them and ask them questions, etc.
They had so much fun doing this that they suggested something of a Taco Bell dance party/cheerleading revolution. Very nonviolent, TOTALLY fun. I hope it catches on!"
Miami, FL July 21 "Raise the Wage" rally organized by the Miami Workers Center, LIFFT and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
The Miami Workers Center, LIFFT and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers organized a protest to raise the federal minimum wage by $1.50 and support the Taco Bell boycott. Over 60 fast-food employees (including several employees of Taco Bell), farmworkers and other allies from SEIU, FLOC, ACORN, Postal Workers, the Human Services Coalition and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center joined this lively protest for nearly two hours, braving a heavy rainstorm for the final rally. A participant describes the protest:
"At the beginning of the protest, over 60 animated low-wage workers decided to enter the Taco Bell in order to raise awareness among the Taco Bell employees and the customers who were still eating inside. Together, we marched into the Taco Bell to the rhythm of two snare drums yelling: 'We want justice! We deserve higher wages for our hard work! No more exploitation!' Two people stood together on a table energizing the protestors. Afterwards, we protested for about an hour and a half outside of the Taco Bell. The police were cooperative and let us march outside. I think they understand our struggle, but they just had to do their job.
After the protest, we had a meeting with all of the low-wage workers from the various organizations. It was an incredibly festive atmosphere with food, music and dance as all of the workers from different backgrounds shared their struggles and got to know each other.
And this is just the beginning. Up to now, Taco Bell does not to listen, but we are continuing the fight. We'll see who tires out first!"