Crime, Local News, Mobile, News, Providence

Woman protesting over wages attacked, former employer arrested

[anvplayer video=”706126″ /] PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A man was charged with assault after a protest held by former workers of his closed Providence restaurant turned violent Saturday morning.

Police arrested Juan Noboa, charging him with assaulting a protester and a police officer.

Flor Salazar, one of the victims, showed us the bruises she sustained in the attack. A photo snapped by witnesses shows her being hit with a bat.

“Because my hand was in front of my face, it hit me on the hand,” she said, speaking with us in Spanish, while an interpreter translated into English. “Then he hit me again with the bat on the forearm. And when I turned around, he hit me again on the shoulder.”

Salazar is part of a group of workers claiming Juan Noboa and Jose Bren failed to pay them their full wages in 2014, when they helped open Cafe Atlantic in Providence.

“I worked two full months without getting paid,” Salazar said.

The workers took their complaints to the Department of Labor and Training. Records provided to Eyewitness News by labor group Fuerza Laboral (Power of Workers) shows Salazar was ordered to be paid $2,000, plus interest, on June 30. It’s less than half of the $7,000 she says she’s owed, and she says she’s yet to see a check.

The ruling for another worker, Oscar Leiva, says that he be paid eighteen dollars. Leiva told Eyewitness News he was paid for only three weeks of work he did between August 1 and Sept. 25, 2014.

“It’s really important for other workers to come forward and bring these complaints. And not be quiet,” Leiva said.

In response to theĀ  decisions, Fuerza Laboral organized the protest outside Noboa’s home at 23 Julian Street Saturday morning. They began chanting, and knocked on his door. According to Salazar, Noboa answered and starting hitting her with the bat.

Salazar and Leiva say the protest is not just about getting their money about–but about inspiring other workers to speak out against unfair labor practices.

“I thought, what if it had been not just a bat, but a gun or any other type of weapon that could have been far more dangerous,” Salazar said with tears in her eyes,

According to a police report, an officer who responded to the scene was also assaulted by Noboa. The report says Noboa pushed Officer Christopher Beach, then engaged in a short scuffle after Beach chased him into the house.

Noboa was charged with felony assault with a dangerous weapon and simple assault of a police officer. He’s being held until the next court session on Monday.

Neil Remiesiewicz contributed to this report.

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