Wendy’s Boycott wins key court battle for right to protest today in Palm Beach as Workers’ Voice Tour rolls into Florida with triumphant Day 9 action in Gainesville!

University of Florida students organizing to “Boot the Braids” from their campus joined the Workers’ Voice Tour crew to march 200+ strong through the streets of Gainesville yesterday.

Join us in Palm Beach today as the Workers’ Voice Tour wraps up in Nelson Peltz’s hometown (ok, one of his many hometowns, but that’s the way it is when you’re a billionaire hedge fund founder and Chairman of Wendy’s Board of Directors…)!

Those of you who follow the Campaign for Fair Food closely might recall where we were around this time last year.  That’s right — we were in the streets of St. Petersburg at the Parade and Concert for Fair Food, 2000 strong, in a joyous celebration of the unprecedented human rights advances achieved in the first years of the Fair Food Program.  The march was loud…


and colorful…


and, most of all, fun…


… which are words you could use to describe pretty much every single action in the history of the Fair Food movement, and there have been — literally — thousands of protests in the 16-year history of the Campaign for Fair Food.

And that’s why it was so strange that the city of Palm Beach reacted as it did when Campaign for Fair Food organizers applied for a permit there, as they have countless times before, for today’s big march marking the culmination of this year’s Workers’ Voice Tour.  Town representatives insisted on restrictions — many of which would simply make you scratch your head, including impossible sound limits and a $10 million bond against any damage the protesters might potentially cause — that our organizers, quite frankly, had never encountered before in any city across this great country of ours (and we have organized marches in just about every state, from sea to shining sea, over the years).

Unfortunately, those restrictions left the Campaign for Fair Food with no choice but to file a lawsuit last month in federal court to ask for an emergency restraining order and preliminary injunction so that we could go ahead with our march today.  Yesterday, the decision was handed down, and… The march will go on!

Here’s an excerpt from an article in yesterday’s Palm Beach Daily News entitled “Judge Blocks Town from Enforcing Sound Limits on March”


…. The town will not be allowed to enforce sound restrictions during the march and rally, according to an order filed Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Robin Rosenberg.

The protesters will be limited to marching on the sidewalk, but Rosenberg ruled the town cannot restrict the coalition’s use of a decorated flatbed truck, which will be driven at about 3 mph.

Rosenberg is requiring the coalition put up a $1,000 bond as security in case it turns out any part of the temporary restraining order placed on the town causes damage.

Local business owners and political leaders voiced support for the workers’ right to be heard, as well:

Franklyn DeMarco, co-owner of Ta-boó restaurant on Worth Avenue, said he is aware of the protest but does not have any major concerns.

“They have a right to protest,” DeMarco said, referring to the coalition. “We have a very competent police force and if there are any problems I’m sure they will take care of it.”

Town Council member Danielle Moore made a similar statement. “America is built on the premise of free speech,” Moore said. “As long as they don’t congest traffic or cause any safety concerns, they have a right to demonstrate.”

There is truly never a dull moment in the fight for Fair Food, but the situation in Palm Beach was a new one for even our seasoned organizers.  Ultimately, however, it was the CIW’s experience, and long track record, of successfully organizing these events that seemed to win the day, as Captain Curtis Krauel indicated in speaking with the Palm Beach Post reporter:

… Krauel said he reached out to other law enforcement agencies about the coalition, an internationally known human rights organization, and also has spoken at length with a representative about the rally and march.

“They seem to be extremely organized and very prideful of how they conduct and behave themselves when doing these demonstrations,” Krauel said.

… “We’re looking forward to working with them and ensuring that their event is a success,” Krauel said.

We too look forward to working with Captain Krauel and with the rest of the Palm Beach police force to carry off a safe and joyful event, a march that — while just like every other safe and joyful event in the nearly twenty years we have been organizing protests from Maine to California — has already secured its place in the history of the Campaign for Fair Food!

Workers’ Voice Tour Day 9…

And so, with that issue finally resolved and the route clear for today’s big march, the Tour crew was able to go about its business yesterday in Gainesville and the penultimate protest in the ten-day Workers’ Voice Tour.  Here below are your video and photo reports from a jam-packed Day 9:

Photo Report from Day 9, Gainesville…


The day began with a bit of sport on the beautiful University of Florida campus…


… where some Tour participants stretched out tired muscles after nearly ten days on the road and demonstrated some impressive ball skills to passing UF students…


…. while others looked on from the sidelines…


… and still others worked an information table nearby, inviting students to the march later that day…


…. and spreading the word about the unprecedented success of the human rights protections under the CIW’s Fair Food Program and the many reasons for the Wendy’s Boycott. 


From there it was on to UF’s famous “La Casita,” heart of the Latino student community and a longtime ally of the CIW on campus…


… for a delicious lunch and some precious down time for more casual sharing among students and workers on the principles of Fair Food and the power of a student/farmworker alliance.


Following lunch, marchers gathered in UF’s Norman Field for a rally under the oaks and Spanish moss, with inspirational words from several UF students, including Kes Nosakhere (above, right) of UF’s Dream Defenders (whose remarks were translated as effortlessly and ably as ever by the CIW’s go-to interpreter for all our major events, Melody Gonzalez, left, who herself was a seminal student leader in the Campaign for Fair Food at Notre Dame back in the day). 


And finally, it was time to hit the streets and do what we do best, …  


…as marchers — old, …


… young, …


… and everything in between — took to Gainesville’s city streets and wound through the University of Florida campus…


… on their way to the Reitz Student Union building, where the on-campus Wendy’s restaurant is located, the target of UF’s student’s burgeoning “Boot the Braids” campaign.


Once outside the Reitz building, the 200+ marchers fell into picket formation…


… and circled the plaza making their voices heard …


… while inside a delegation of workers from Immokalee and student leaders from UF met with a top administrator from the university’s dining services in what participants felt was a respectful and productive dialogue.


Following the conversation inside, the delegation returned to the plaza and gave a report to the marchers, closing out the day’s action on a decidedly hopeful note and setting the stage for the next chapter in UF’s Boot the Braids campaign.


No long day of action would be complete, of course, without a dinner to refuel the body and music to recharge the soul, and Day 9 was no exception, as truly satisfying “convivio” in the Tour crew’s honor was hosted at the Gator Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist youth organization with beautiful facilities just off campus.

That’s it for the Day 9 report, it’s off now to Palm Beach and the grand finale of the Workers’ Voice Tour!