Houston police will investigate broker wage theft claims after driver protest

Houston police say that they will launch an investigation into the accusations raised by dozens of truck drivers who took to the streets to demonstrate on Monday.

On Monday afternoon, about 75 independent truck drivers gathered along Houston’s East Loop to protest for honest prices on loads, fair fees from insurance companies and broker regulations. Specifically, the drivers were attempting to draw attention to brokers who failed to pay for work completed.

Big rigs block traffic on East Loop in apparent protest

A group of big-rig drivers blocked traffic Monday on the East Loop in an apparent protest.Read more: https://chrn.cl/34Snuyj(Video by Jay R. Jordan/Houston Chronicle)

Posted by Chron.com from the Houston Chronicle on Monday, April 20, 2020

The protest caused a significant traffic disruption.

Police eventually moved the protesters to a parking lot at I-10 and Federal Way.

Houston police cited all of the demonstrating drivers on misdemeanor charges. One woman was arrested for inciting a riot, also a misdemeanor charge.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo met with the protesting drivers and told them that it was not permissible to block roadways during protest activities and that they should work with police to find ways to demonstrate appropriately. He said, “There is a distinct line between the First Amendment and criminal offenses.”

Acevedo also issued a statement indicating that he was taking accusations of non-payment by brokers seriously. He said via Twitter:

Theft of wages is inexcusable and a criminal offense. @MattSlinkard’s team will be initiating a criminal investigation into allegations of widespread theft of wages. We won’t tolerate exploitation of hard working people, or unlawfully impeding the movement of traffic