Last night, nearly one thousand striking janitors met at the corner of Travis and Capitol in Houston in preparation for a protest march to Houston Police Department Headquarters on Travis Street. The four-week-old strike resulted in fourteen arrests on Wednesday, when striking janitors and union organizers chained themselve to the Chevron building in Houston. The janitors are striking in the hope of getting health benefits and a raise in wage to $8.50 an hour. The average current wage is $5.30 an hour. They also report numerous civil rights abuses and failure of management to bargain in good faith. The five main companies involved are Hines, Transwestern, Crescent, Brookfield Properties, and Chevron.
Last night’s march never took place, however, because mounted Houston police officers rushed into the crowd, injuring four people. Forty-four were arrested. One of the janitors described the scene:
The horses came all of a sudden. They started jumping on top of people. I heard the women screaming. A horse stomped on top of me. I fell to the ground and hurt my arm. The horses just kept coming at us. I was terrified. I never thought the police would do something so aggressive, so violent.
One of the injured strikers was Hazel Ingram, an 83-year-old janitor from New York. Ingram was taken to the hospital for treatment of an arm injury. Several protesters report being stepped on by horses. Spectators said that the police grabbed a sign that said Stand Up For the American Dream, threw it to the ground, stomped on it, and then joined other officers in giving high-fives.