Amazon Protestor Arrested After Speaking Out

Amazon Protestor Arrested After Speaking Out

( – A would-be union organizer has been arrested outside the Amazon warehouse he was fired from in 2020, after trying to unionize the facility. Is this a free speech issue, or simple trespass on private property?

In 2020, Amazon employee Christian Smalls, who had worked for the online retailer for five years, started complaining about the company’s “lax” COVID-19 policies in March 2020. After organizing a walkout at the Staten Island warehouse where he worked and submitting a complaint to the state health department, Amazon let him go. Further, the company revealed that Smalls himself had violated company social distancing rules — and was on paid quarantine leave when he came into work to lead the walkout. Smalls claimed that his firing, like his failure to be promoted to supervisor, was racially motivated.

Since being fired, Smalls has devoted himself to unionizing Amazon’s workforce, something the company is understandably opposed to. On February 23, he returned to the warehouse and was attempting to persuade employees to sign up to the Amazon union he leads when he was challenged by company managers accompanied by local cops. When a supervisor asked him to leave the property Smalls refused and started arguing with police when they told him he was trespassing. Finally, he was warned that if he didn’t leave he would be arrested – and still he refused. After that, he and two Amazon employees were arrested and later released.

Smalls has a right to attempt to organize a union, but he seems to be mistaking that for a right to enter private property without permission. Should Amazon allow unwelcome visitors on their property, or do what they did with Smalls – call the cops?

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