Protesting Farm Worker Oppression

November 30, 2012 Campus, News, Student Orgs

On Saturday, Nov. 17, students from Rollins College and Boone High School held a protest at a local Publix at 1400 East Colonial Drive to raise awareness about the oppression of workers that occurs on Florida tomato farms and the Coalition for Immokalee Workers. The protest took place from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Amnesty International member Airam Dato-on ‘13 thought the protest was a success. “People saw us and a couple bystanders even joined us,” he said. “I was able to tell several people why we were protesting. We also had a sign that said ‘honk for fair wage,’ which made a lot of noise from the bustling traffic of Colonial drive.”

Dato-on played a large role in organizing the protest. He said, “I contacted Coalition for Immokalee Workers, CIW community partners, local partners here in Orlando, made the flyers, [and] organized the picket sign making event. Sarah Elbadri and Roxanne Szal also played a big part in helping me organize the event.”

Roxanne Szal ‘13, President of Amnesty International at Rollins College, said, “[The protest was] in honor of November’s Fair Food Month, an initiative chosen by the Rollins Amnesty members. September was Death Penalty Month, and October was Free Speech Month.”

At the protest, Dato-on talked to the Publix’s head manager. “Alex Schelle (Boone High School’s Student Farmworker Alliance) and I talked to her about sending the letter that was given to her two weeks ago when CIW went up and protested at the same Publix,” Dato-on said. “The store manager said that she did. The weird thing during this protest was there were new faces. There were more corporate personnel from Publix, [which is] something that we haven’t seen before. They also knew that we were going to hold a protest. I have a guess on how they knew about it but I am not completely sure if I am right. My hypothesis is that Rollins told Publix about the protest.”

Szal and Dato-on expect to have more protests in the future. “There are three Publix [stores] within a five minute drive from Rollins, and they are also located on busy roads,” he explained. “Those [will] be our next target.”

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