Hundreds of protesters, including some Walmart workers who skipped their shifts on the retail industry's busiest day, spoke, chanted and sang outside of Walmart stores around the United States, making pleas for higher wages and better healthcare for Walmart hourly workers.
In Chicago, 10 people protesting at a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, 2844 N. Broadway, were cited after they blocked the street about 9:40 a.m. as part of their protest, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Daniel O'Brien.
Before the arrests, Protesters at the Lakeview store likened their work for higher wages to the Civil Rights movement.
"I'm standing out here in the 2000s, to make sure we're going to get justice, make sure we don't get bamboozled and make sure we have a living wage before this is all over with," said Myron Byrd, a Wal-Mart employee, before he was taken into custody by police.
OUR Walmart, an organization backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, said it counted 1,000 protests in 46 U.S. states, including strikes in 100 cities — figures that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said were "grossly exaggerated."
There was no evidence that such activity disrupted what appeared to be a strong start for Wal-Mart Stores to the crucial holiday shopping season.
The arrest of nine people in Paramount, Calif., who told law enforcement they intended to be arrested, occurred at around noon, well after the rush of specials that kicked off at 8 p.m. the night before and culminated with a 5 a.m. round of deals on "Black Friday," the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.
Nine people, who refused to leave the street, were peacefully arrested for refusal to disperse, said Captain Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Three of those arrested were striking Walmart workers, OUR Walmart said.
Other demonstrations were smaller and less disruptive.
In Connecticut, a small group of protesters marched to the Walmart store in Avon to call attention to low pay and inadequate hours. They passed out flyers and claimed that 80 percent of Walmart workers are on food stamps and that the average Walmart worker's wage is $8.81 an hour.
Protest organizer Shannon Watson said the group chose the Walmart in Avon because "this is a fairly wealthy area of the state, surrounded by wealthy towns, and these are a lot of people that have financial choice to shop somewhere else."
A store manager told the protesters to leave, so they headed to the Walmart Plaza entrance on Route 44.
Protester Linda Vannon said, "Most of the people who rolled down their windows today — and the majority of people who stopped when I approached did — were very receptive and said, 'Wow, I didn't know that,' and 'Yeah, they should pay their employees more.'"
But, shopper Tom Koczon of Avon said, "That's like trying to turn the Titanic around, right?"
At a Walmart on Chicago's South side, just one employee from the store's nearly 500 staff took part in the demonstration, according to Walmart. There, four busloads of protesters marched outside and were not stopped by police or security guards.
Many of the demonstrators were not Walmart workers, but were supporters such as Candice Justice, a retired teacher who stood with dozens of others in Chicago on Friday morning.
Walmart said it was aware of a few dozen protests on Friday, and said the number of workers who missed scheduled shifts was "more than 60 percent less than Black Friday last year."
The team organizing the protests disagreed.
"Right now there are hundreds and hundreds currently on strike," Dan Schlademan, director of Making Change at Walmart, a campaign anchored by the UFCW, said on Friday afternoon. He said he could not provide a specific number of striking workers.
Walmart said five workers of the 250 scheduled to work at the Paramount, Calif., store skipped shifts on Friday, while OUR Walmart said 18 did so.
For its part, Walmart said it recorded its best Black Friday events ever, with more shoppers than last year and nearly 10 million register transactions between 8 p.m. Thursday and 12 a.m. Friday. It said it sold more than 1.8 million towels, 1.3 million TVs and some 250,000 bicycles.
The Hartford Courant and Fox CT's John Charlton contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun