In late November, three weeks after the election, 21-year-old Anggie Godoy “took arrest” outside of the Downtown Los Angeles McDonald’s, where she has worked for the past three years.
Godoy was one of thousands of low-wage workers around the country who participated in a National Day of Disruption to demand higher wages and highlight the deeply insecure conditions faced by immigrant workers, many of whom are undocumented. Workers blockaded entrances to fast food restaurants and retail outlets in Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York, and more than 300 other cities, as well as demonstrating in front of dozens of airport terminals nationally. More than 100 were arrested and issued citations for refusing police orders to disburse.
In Los Angeles, roughly 400 people blocked the street between a downtown McDonald’s and an American Apparel outlet. “Hey McDonald’s, we’re still here,” the strikers, many of them either undocumented or related to immigrants lacking legal paperwork, chanted. Then, in direct response to Trump’s election and his promises to deport millions of people from the country, they continued: “We refuse to live in fear!” Finally, they sat down, and, while they waited to be arrested, chanted, “The people, united, will never be defeated!”
A few days later, Godoy reflected on why she was willing to be arrested. “It’s to prove your point that you’re going to do whatever it takes to get $15 an hour,” she said while sitting at a table outside of a Starbucks on the corner of Union and Wilshire, down the road from the apartment she lives in with her mother and two younger siblings. “It was a lot of emotions all at once. I was scared. I’ve never been arrested.”
For Godoy, who, with her shoulder-length brown hair streaked with purple highlights, looked younger than her twenty-one years, the arrest symbolized her increasing radicalization—a move into politics catalyzed over the past few years by her friendship with local Fight for $15 organizers, and made more urgent by her mother’s undocumented status. Godoy first applied to work at McDonald’s when she was still in high school, hoping the money would help her family stay afloat. She earned $8 an hour at first, and quickly realized that those dollars didn’t go anywhere near far enough to supplement the earnings that her mother—an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—was able to bring in through a series of casual, non-benefited jobs.
After Godoy graduated from high school in 2015, she began studying for a political science degree at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, where she remains a student today. She continues to work at McDonald’s simply to make a dent in her bills.