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Houston, U.S.A. – Early in the afternoon of June 14, more than 450 people – representing a broad cross-section of Houston – gathered in the city’s Skyline District at a peaceful demonstration calling for the end of poverty-wage jobs in Houston. The protestors – many of whom are SEIU members and clean downtown buildings and make just $9000 annually as janitors – were gathered outside of JP Morgan Chase when police horses trampled multiple protestors. Shortly after, one of the protestors, who was attempting to assist one of the janitors trampled by the police horse, was arrested.
“Today, in downtown Houston, hundreds of janitors were joined by allies from across the city in a simple, peaceful exercise of their First Amendment rights,” explained Tom Balanoff, President of SEIU Local 1, which represents 3200 Houston Janitors. “Every day across this country, thousands of workers face the brute force of corporations unwilling to pay fair wages and treat workers with dignity and respect. Right here in Houston, thousands of janitors who clean the offices of some of the country’s most profitable corporations are making poverty wages.”
The police horses trampled the protestors as they crossed the street to rally in front of JP Morgan Chase’s Houston office. Although JP Morgan reported profits of close to $19 billion in 2011 – and still has not repaid the $100 million in bailout funds that it took – the janitors cleaning the Houston office make just $9000 annually.
“And these hard-working janitors have made a choice to stand up and say no more. But the actions by members of the Houston Police Department present at today’s protest are nothing short of unacceptable,” continued Balanoff. “As a country, we are called to protect the rights of all people and to honor the right of hard-working men and women to protest when necessary.”