Baldemar Velasquez, president of Toledo-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee was arrested for civil disobedience Monday at a protest in Raleigh, N.C.
Mr. Velasquez, 66, was among more than 80 protesters arrested at a rally held at the North Carolina General Assembly building in Raleigh to oppose the state’s budget cuts to unemployment benefits, health-care funding, education, and other social benefits.
More than 3,000 protesters attended the rally, organized by the North Carolina NAACP. Mr. Velasquez was accompanied by more than a dozen FLOC members and was a guest speaker at the event.
“I’ve led hundreds of marches and demonstrations in my 44 years of organizing, but today I come as a follower, a simple soldier to join this movement,” Mr. Velasquez said at the event while flanked by the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP. “I came down from Toledo today to be a part of this movement because I can’t just sit back and watch this legislature pass policies that are bad for workers and our families.”
Mr. Velasquez and FLOC member Raul Jimenez were arrested about 6:45 p.m. and released at 11:20 p.m., organization officials said. FLOC has a field office in Dudley, N.C.
About 700 people have been arrested since the weekly rallies began in late April.
A longtime social rights activist, Mr. Velasquez was last arrested in 1998 in Nash County, North Carolina, and charged with trespassing on a migrant camp owned by Rainbow Farms. The charges were dismissed because he had permission from the farmworkers to be on the site.