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9 protesters arrested outside Walmart in Paramount on 'Black Friday' [UPDATE]

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Update 12:46 p.m.:   Officials say that a large group of protesters walked out into the street at the intersection of Lakewood Blvd. and Century Blvd. in front of the Walmart in Paramount and when they were told to disperse they did so. However nine protesters, who planned on being arrested, were arrested by sheriff's deputies.

Of those arrested, three are current Walmart employees, one is a former employee, one is a family member of an employee, and the rest are clergy members there to support the protest.

"Before noon today over 1,000 people were protesting at the Walmart in Paramount. They protested peacefully but at one point over 1,000 people went out into the street and began to block traffic," L.A. County Sheriffs Dept. Captain Mike Parker told NBCLA.

"So sheriffs deputies issued an order to disperse at about a quarter to noon and most of the people left right away - got out of the street so that traffic could return to normal. But nine people had pre-planned to be arrested. They were arrested peacefully. There was no use of force necessary. And essentially, this was about people exercising their First Amendment rights," Capt. Parker said adding that things are now back to normal.

Update 12:14 p.m.: Members of the group OurWalmart and others have been arrested outside the Paramount Walmart. Sheriff deputies say a total of 9 protesters, so far, have been arrested.

Original report:

Workers are protesting outside Walmart stores in Southern California today to bring attention to what they call unsatisfactory wages and benefits.

Richard Reynoso, 19, stocks coolers overnight at a Walmart store in Duarte.

He says he walked off the job at 5 a.m. to join allies from the United Food and Commercial Workers.

“I would have walked out earlier but I actually…I need the money. I’m a little scared if I go in and they tell me that I’m fired, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take for what’s right,” he said.

The protests don’t seem to be deterring shoppers. In a statement, Walmart says it’s had record sales this Black Friday.

"I'm so proud of what our more than 1.3 million associates have done to prepare and execute our Black Friday plans, giving our customers a great start to their Christmas shopping season," Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and chief executive officer, said in a statement Friday. "The work of our associates is even more impressive when you consider they served approximately 22 million customers on Thursday."

Simon also played down the protests saying very few employees took part.

"We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year," Simon said.

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