On the 30th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, workers from nine U.S. airports are planning to block bridges, march through terminals and protest at airline headquarters during a day of civil disobedience.
The workers — a mix of cleaners, baggage handlers, fuelers and wheelchair attendants — will risk arrest at airports and other locations including the Capitol Mall in Washington, to bring attention to their campaign for better wages, the Service Employees International Union said.
The airport workers are campaigning for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, a benefits package and job protections. They’re also protesting threats against their efforts to unionize.
In Washington, Reagan National Airport workers and supporters — as many as 200 — are planning to block traffic near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at the Mall, in what could potentially cause significant gridlock to a major downtown thoroughfare.
Actions are also being organized in Boston, New York City, Newark, N.J., Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Portland, Ore., and Seattle.
In the Twin Cities, marchers in Minneapolis and St. Paul are planning to gather in each city at 3:30 p.m. Monday, and march toward each other to meet on the Lake Street-Marshall Avenue Bridge.
In the “Tale of Two Cities” march, the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar will meet in Minneapolis at Lake Street and 46th Avenue S., calling for the prosecution, without a grand jury, of police officers involved in the November shooting of Jamar Clark, 24.
In St. Paul, protesters with Justice 4 Marcus Golden will meet at Marshall and Otis avenues to demand reopening the case of Marcus Golden, shot by police in early 2015. A grand jury declined to indict the officers involved in that shooting.
In Atlanta, the King Center will celebrate the day at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was co-pastor with his father.
The commemorative service caps more than a week of events. The theme this year is “Remember! Celebrate! Act! King’s Legacy of Freedom for Our World.”
The theme of freedom is especially meaningful this year, said King’s daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, because it is the 50th anniversary of her father going to Chicago to highlight the need for open and fair housing.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro is set to speak at Monday’s service, and the Rev. William Barber II, president of the NAACP in North Carolina, will deliver the keynote address.
One event leading up to the service was a two-part discussion on Jan. 9 focusing on King’s philosophy of nonviolence. “Conflict is inevitable. Differences are inevitable. We will never get to a place where we will all agree on everything,” Bernice King said. “We have to have a manner of dealing with each other where we respect the dignity and worth of the person.”
Staff writer Pam Louwagie, the Washington Post and the Associated Press contributed to this report.