"The police are not our enemy, the people of Charleston are not our enemy," he said. "The mayor is not our enemy. The folks [at Patriot] who did this are our enemy.
"If you can't get justice in the courthouse, if you can't get justice in the statehouse, if you can't get justice in the Capitol, then you have to get justice in the streets of this country," Roberts said. "It's time for the working class of this country to stand up."
Eventually, he said, business owners and politicians will be forced to pay attention to workers' complaints.
After again reminding protesters to act peacefully, Roberts and 15 other protesters, including the Rev. Jim Lewis of Charleston, sat down on the steps in front of Laidley Tower.
"You can't block the sidewalk; you're going to have to get up and move," police calmly told the group. After repeating the order several times and telling protesters they would be arrested, several officers moved in to make arrests.
Roberts and the others quietly allowed themselves to be handcuffed. They were arrested without incident and led to a waiting police van. The crowd then dispersed peacefully. Several miners shook hands with police officers or patted them on the back.
As the arrests were made, Charleston paramedics were treating a protester sitting on the steps nearby who had become weak and short of breath. After hooking him up to an oxygen machine and sitting with him for several minutes, they helped the man to his feet and helped him walk down the street.
Union members have held similar demonstrations in other cities in recent weeks.
Arrested along with Roberts and Lewis were Anita Wade, 30, of Lake; John Palmer, 58, of Monongah; Ricky Lowe, 58, of Yolyn; Richard Ryan, 55, of Sod; Shirley Inman, 69, of Madison; Doris Crouse-Mays, 54, of Vinton, Va.; Deanna Hogge, 69, of Taylorsville, Ill.; William Londrigan, 57, of Waddy, Ky.; Clifton Tennant, 39, of Fairview; Don Prange, 80, of Winchester, Va.; John Cox, 54, of Duggar, Ind.; the Rev. John Rausch, 68, of Staunton, Ky.; Denneth Perdue, 50, of Fairmont and Daniel Kane, 63, of Ebensburg, Pa.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.