Pro-Union Protesters Arrested at Florida Wal-Mart

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - A group that wants to unionize Wal-Mart is accusing a Florida Wal-Mart of "racial profiling."

It happened after two protesters demonstrating at a store in North Lauderdale were arrested -- for allegedly shoving store managers, the Broward Sheriff's office was quoted as saying.

Sheriff's deputies reportedly arrested the two African-American women for simple battery, a misdemeanor charge. One of the women was also charged with obstruction of justice, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

The women were among a group taking part in's campaign called "All I Want for Christmas is Health Care for My Mommy." is a union-affiliated group that says it wants to change the way Wal-Mart does business.

As part of the "Health Care for Mommy" protest, activists were handing out gift boxes to children - but the boxes were empty, and that reportedly made some of the kids cry.

Wal-Mart said the protesters refused to leave the store until police arrived, and that's when the shoving allegedly broke out. accused Wal-Mart employees of causing "an unnecessary incident."

"We wonder why Wal-Mart would single out two peaceful African-Americans (only 2 of the 15 people at the event were detained) and hope Wal-Mart will apologize for this unnecessary incident and not be so fearful of the truth," said Paul Blank, the campaign director for

A Unitarian minister said she and her fellow protesters were leaving Wal-Mart, "when two African Americans among our group were targeted by Wal-Mart personnel."

The Rev. Dr. Lucy Hitchcock Seck, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami, said the two women "did nothing -- nothing wrong at all."

"Wal-Mart must explain why they targeted two African Americans out of a group of fifteen of us -- it is morally outrageous. I can only hope Wal-Mart will acknowledge its profound mistake and explain why two citizens were apparently racially profiled by Wal-Mart," Seck said in a press release.

Wal-Mart has largely ignored the union-inspired protests against it, saying it just "comes with the territory," as one spokesperson put it.

See Earlier Stories:
Leaders of Faith Mark Holiday Season by Bashing Wal-Mart (12 Dec. 2005)
Pro-Union Group Tries to Discourage Wal-Mart Customers (22 Nov. 2005)
Union Group Launches 'Association' for Wal-Mart Workers (4 Nov. 2005)

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