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Downtown's Silent Protest: No Media "Whatsoever"


But the protesters won't say a word more about why they've been standing on the street for eight weeks. They're only supposed to hand out flyers, several said. Nor will representatives of the carpenters' council talk.

"We're looking to not have any kind of media coverage whatsoever," says Bryan Frise, director of organizing for the local chapter of the council. The Richmond protests mirror those going on in other cities, he says. "It's just to inform the public."

Nor are the protesters actual carpenters. "They're banner-holders, that's all," Frise says.

The protesters won't say how much they're paid or how they got the job. "Connections," one young man says mysteriously.

The protesters are "certainly very uninformed," says Sandra Winfrey, property manager for Park Plaza Partners LLP, the developer of the new apartments at Belvidere and West Franklin streets and the target of one of the protests.

The flyer passed out there alleges that Rin-Buhr Construction, a subcontractor for the project, doesn't pay sufficient wages. "It's totally unfounded, for one thing," Winfrey says. "It's totally ridiculous." The company is paying workers more than union scale, she says; wages average about $13 per hour.

When the protesters first showed up, Winfrey says, Park Plaza's general partner Ernest Bernstein wrote to the carpenters' council to tell them they were misinformed and offered to arrange a meeting, to show them pay records and let them interview workers.

"They did none of that," she says. "And they're still standing out there."

There's nothing else the company can do, she says.

The protesters have also been standing at Main and Eighth streets, Foushee and Broad streets and Meadow Street just south of Cary Street. S

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