Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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200 protest in downtown for tobacco field workers


Protesters, including from right, Anayanse Garza, Jocelyn Terrazas, and Ashely Terrazas, joined the Farm Labor Organizing Committee to rally for better treatment for tobacco workers.

Jetta Fraser Enlarge

About 200 people gathered in front of downtown Toledo's One Government Center on Tuesday afternoon to rally against alleged inhumane treatment of tobacco field workers.

Groups from New York and the Southwest stopped in Toledo to show solidarity with the Toledo-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee, or FLOC, before continuing on to Detroit, where they plan to protest against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. and JPMorgan Chase at 9:45 a.m. Friday.

The group waved red flags and banners and chanted for workers' rights.

"The people are under attack. What do we do? Fight right back," the crowd chanted. "Up with the people. Down with the banks. Down with Chase."

Emma Rollenhagen, a University of Toledo student doing an internship with Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice, said she came to show support for FLOC.

"[Problems include] the hours and the lack of protection against the pesticides and the nicotine poisoning," Ms. Rollenhagen, 22, said. "I don't feel it's acceptable for that to still be occurring in the United States today."

FLOC President Baldemar Velasquez asked those in attendance to sign a pledge and divest from JPMorgan Chase "to send a message that you can't have our money to take advantage of us."

Mr. Velasquez said the Toledo rally went well and plans to lead about 4,000 to 5,000 in protesting the bank in Detroit on Friday.

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