FREEPORT (CBS) — It began as an act of civil disobedience last month. Reverend Jesse Jackson Senior and more than a dozen others arrested on Sensata Plant property in Freeport, protesting the outsourcing of 175 jobs to China.

“There’s a thing about being here in Freeport, a town so small and wrapped with such a big idea of free trade and fairness in the workplace,” said Jackson outside the Stephenson County Courthouse.

READ MORE: Caught On Video: Man Steals Car, Crashes It Moments Later In Back Of The Yards

Jackson and the other defendants went before a judge, making the decision to plead not guilty for trespassing and go to trial as a matter of principle.

“This is what it was all about, for us to take a stand and try and keep our jobs here,” said Joanne Matthews, an arrested protester.

READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Lows In The Upper Teens, Possible Snow Showers Over The Weekend

“We’re gonna escalate this protest,” said Jackson.

The move follows a decades-long precedent for Jackson, but it also comes during a difficult month for the Jackson family with son Jesse Jackson Junior’s resignation from congress amidst a federal investigation and dealing with health issues.

MORE NEWS: View Live Radar

Jackson and the others arrested will be back in Freeport for a trial sometime in the spring, according to the judge, for a problem that the reverend says isn’t just happening here, but everywhere.