Strike for justice protesters are seen Monday, July 20, 2020, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) Strike for Black Lives
Strike for justice protesters are seen Monday, July 20, 2020, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

“Sadly, if they’re not in the streets, the political systems don’t move, because when you just send an email or a tweet, they ignore it.”

Workers from the service industry, fast-food chains, and the gig economy rallied with organized labor Monday to protest systemic racism and economic inequality, staging demonstrations across the U.S. and around the world seeking better treatment of Black Americans in the workplace.

Organizers of the Strike for Black Lives said at least 20,000 workers in 160 cities walked off the job, inspired by the racial reckoning that followed the deaths of several Black men and women at the hands of police. Visible support came largely in protests that drew people whose jobs in health care, transportation and construction do not allow them to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Participants nationwide broadly demanded action by corporations and the government to confront racism and inequality that limit mobility and career advancement for many Black and Hispanic workers, who make up a disproportionate number of those earning less than a living wage.

RELATED: The Protests Are About More Than George Floyd’s Death. The Data Shows It.

The demands include allowing workers to unionize to negotiate better health care, sick leave and child care support.

“What the protesters are saying, that if we want to be concerned — and we should be — about police violence and people getting killed by the police … we have to also be concerned about the people who are dying and being put into lethal situations through economic exploitation all over the country,” said the Rev. William Barber II, co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, one of the organizations that partnered to support the strike.

RELATED: Trump Thinks the Economy Is Back on Track, But COVID-19 Is Widening the Racial Divide

Barber told The Associated Press that Monday’s turnout showed the importance of the issue to the people willing to come out during a pandemic to make their voices heard.

“Sadly, if they’re not in the streets, the political systems don’t move, because when you just send an email or a tweet, they ignore it,” he said.

St. Louis
Protesters march outside a McDonald’s restaurant Monday, July 20, 2020, in St. Louis. Protesters marched and and stoped to make speeches while others used their cars to block the drive-thru effectively shutting down the restaurant for about 40 minutes to advocate for a higher wage and protest systemic racism and economic inequality. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Denver
Attendees kneel for eight minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd during a gathering outside the Kaiser Permanente health care facility Black Strike Day, Monday, July 20, 2020, in east Denver. Colorado janitors, security and healthcare workers took part in the effort, which matched similar actions staged across the country to support the movement for Black lives. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Los Angeles
Audrey Reed, 8, holds up a sing through the sunroof of a car during a rally in Los Angeles, Monday, July 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Philadelphia
Demonstrators protest in Philadelphia, Monday, July 20, 2020, during a rally for racial justice. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
New York
Protesters gather for a rally outside the Federal Reserve in the Financial District, Monday, July 20, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Chicago
People march from the McDonald’s restaurant on 180 W. Adams St. back to the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Monday, July 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Joshua Housing)
Chicago
Tabina Gipson speaks with her daughter Serenity Dixon to people outside the McDonald’s restaurant on 180 W. Adams St. in Chicago on Black Strike Day, Monday, July 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Joshua Housing)