Courtesy: ACLU-NH

Mar 25, 2016 4:22 PM

Activists march in front of jail where homeless fast food worker died

MANCHESTER - Activists marched outside Valley Street Jail in Manchester Friday demanding justice for a homeless man who died there earlier this month.

Jeffrey Pendleton, 26 of Nashua was being held at Valley Street because he couldn’t afford his $100 bail.

Around two dozen people marched outside the jail holding signs with messages calling for justice and to raise the wage for fast food workers. Pendleton worked at Burger King and was active in the “Fight for 15” movement to raise their wages to 15 dollars an hour.

"We don’t make enough," said Robert Mercier who was Pendleton’s manager at Burger King. "I literally just got paid and I’m already broke and I make $9.25 an hour."

"I make $300 every two weeks at Burger King and he (Pendleton) works less than me so I can only imagine what he got every two weeks," a former co-worker Andy Fontaine said. "I can only imagine that all of that went towards food and trying to survive day by day."

Arrested on a marijuana possession charge, Pendleton was found unconscious in his cell a few days later and was unable to be revived. Corrections officials say there was never an indication he was in any kind of distress.

"The next thing you know he’s dead," Mercier said. "No one knows exactly what happened."

His friends want answers and so does the ACLU. Pendleton was a client of theirs and won thousands of dollars in lawsuits against the towns of Hudson and Nashua after he was arrested for panhandling.

"Don’t think that he was just a nobody homeless man who smoked pot," Fontaine said. "I mean, he was a person, he was caring and he was nice and he worked for what he believed in. He was passionate about Fight for 15 more than I was."

Pendleton’s death remains under investigation by Manchester Police and corrections officials. Toxicology results are pending.

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