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Arrest Sparks Protest at McDonald’s

by Mike Rhodes (MikeRhodes [at] Comcast.net)
Responding to the arrest of a handicapped homeless woman, who was attempting to use a bathroom at McDonalds, about a dozen protestors held signs and talked to the media in front of the restaurant today. The photo below is Sherri Williams, the woman who was arrested last weekend.
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Arrest Sparks Protest at McDonald’s
By Mike Rhodes

The arrest last weekend of a homeless woman at a Fresno McDonald’s led to a protest today. Protestors said Sherri Williams’s rights were violated when she was arrested for attempting to use the restroom at McDonald’s on Olive and highway 99. Speaking at the protest Liza Apper, of the Saint Benedict Catholic Worker group, said she was “here today to support Sherri and her husband Al who was discriminated against from getting service at this McDonald’s.” Liza said she would “like McDonald’s to acknowledge their policy of discrimination toward handicapped people and change. They should give the same level of service to their fully abled customers as they do to their handicapped customers.”

Liza had a message for the McDonald’s corporation. She said “McDonald’s has roots in helping the homeless, Founder Ray Kroc and his wife were very supportive and contributed millions of dollars to the Saint Vincent center in San Diego and I think that McDonald’s, when they are aware of this situation, would feel very upset that their own founders, who had so much sympathy and put their money where their mouth was for the homeless, would have a local McDonald’s that exhibits such discrimination against the homeless and the handicapped.”

Liza’s husband Bryan was also at the protest. Bryan told me that a young man came over to him and asked what the protest was about. “When I told him that McDonald’s had arrested this woman in a wheelchair because she took too long in the restroom, he got angry and said ‘you know I eat here every day and I’m never coming back here again,’ and he left. He was very angry.”

Sherri Williams and her husband Al were at the protest. Sherri said that she hoped the protest would result in McDonald’s allowing homeless and handicapped people to use the restroom. “I hope they don’t discriminate against someone else who is in a wheelchair, another handicapped person, there was no reason for them to do that,” Sherri said. To see a full report on the arrest, go to: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/07/08/18433984.php

Al Williams said “McDonald’s has started discriminating against the homeless and handicapped people. We have approached them and they have become very belligerent about abiding by the laws, so we are going to make this public.” Al said that he wanted McDonald’s to realize that they are not above the law.

McDonald’s manager Michelle Torres was at the scene of the protest today. Attempts by several journalists to get a comment from Torres were brushed off. Torres did yell at me for taking pictures of her employees who were serving protestors water. Of course, I continued taking pictures, and told her that she had no authority over journalists taking pictures of a news story.

There was no police presence at the protest All major television news stations did came out to interview Sherri, Al, and several of the 10 - 15 protestors. The Fresno Bee was conspicuous in its absence.

For a list of articles and documents about the struggle for civil liberties for homeless people in Fresno, see: http://www.fresnoalliance.com/home/homelessness.htm
§Liza Apper
by Mike Rhodes
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She said “McDonald’s has roots in helping the homeless, Founder Ray Kroc and his wife were very supportive and contributed millions of dollars to the Saint Vincent center in San Diego and I think that McDonald’s, when they are aware of this situation, would feel very upset that their own founders, who had so much sympathy and put their money where their mouth was for the homeless, would have a local McDonald’s that exhibits such discrimination against the homeless and the handicapped.”
§He is not Lovin it
by Mike Rhodes
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Cemetery, a homeless man who lives in the Roeding Park area, protested his friends arrest.
§How do you spell Discrimination?
by Mike Rhodes
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All Photos by Mike Rhodes
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