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Over 10,000 protest Right to Work policies in Lansing

December 11, 2012


Starting at 6:00am, people came from all over Michigan and surrounding states to take part in a protest against the Michigan legislature’s passing of anti-union legislation, known as Right to Work.

People came from cities like Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Jackson, as well as small towns like Hastings, Delton, Cedar Springs and Fowlerville.

By 9:00am there was an estimated 10,000 people in and around the state capitol demanding that Governor Snyder veto legislation that was voted on today, making anti-union Right to Work the official policy of the state.

Most of those attended the protest were union members, as was expected, with representation from the UAW, SEIU, electrical workers, steel workers, the MEA, the nurses union, public sector unions and the IWW.

photo 2Many roads were blocked off by the police, who were trying to make it difficult for folks to navigate downtown Lansing, but many unions bused in their members and took over the capitol lawn and the road out front with members holdings signs and inflated rats with Governor Snyder’s name on one and Dick DeVos’ name on another.

There were also over a thousand people inside the capitol, which had a large police presence, some in full riot gear, carry pepper spray and concussion grenades.

In many ways the presence of protestors inside was unorganized and people were just hanging out in the rotunda area, on all three floors. There was good energy, lots of chanting and conversation about what Right to Work policies will mean for Michigan.

There was also a smaller group of folks who informed people before 10:00am that people were going to be sitting down and occupying the 2nd floor of the rotunda while the House was in session and voting on the Right to Work bills.

At this point there were groups standing in sections between the four halls ways that lead off of the rotunda. People continued to chant and sing and every 15 minutes or so we were given updates about what was taking place outside. At one point we were told that pepper spray was used on some of the union members outside and one leader of the UAW was by a cop so hard in the chest that he had to be rushed to the hospital. We were also told that people tore down a Tea Party tent that was outside, news that received a big round of applause from those protesting inside.

Then around 10:45 we were informed that the House had passed the Right to Work legislation and about 100 people who were inside the rotunda moved to the center and sat down. Many of us (this writer participated in the sit down) were given signs that said VETO, even though signs were prohibited inside.

Those of us who sat down, then began to invite others who were inside the capitol as part of the protest. Our numbers grew and we moved out from the center to take over more space. At about 11:30am, we were all greeted by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Rep. Gretchen Whitmar.

Jackson made some very moving comments (see video below) about the importance of this action and how so many working families have already gone over the “fiscal cliff.” After speaking Jackson sat down with the rest of us, along with Bernero and Whitmar, which brought even more excitement to the action.

However, in less than a minute, Jackson and the local politicians got up and wished us well. Many people took this as an insult and felt that if they really supported this action they would have stayed, considering we live in a society where having people like Jackson and elected officials will generally guarantee more media attention.

The occupation lasted for another hour or so, but it became apparent that not everyone was going to stay, even if it meant risking arrest. We also could not get more people to join us and the police presence continued to grow inside.

Some people who were wearing reflective vests and directing people inside all day, were members of unions, but more often than not acted as an extension of the cops, by constantly telling people to cooperate and getting into arguments with people who were doing civil 1

Around 2:00pm it was clear that there were not enough numbers to maintain an occupation and some organizers decided to tell people to join a protest outside in front of the Romney building across the street.

This writer left, with a contingent of people from Grand Rapids, feeling a sense of defeat since the possibility of occupying the capitol was great and the numbers of protestors could have accomplished what was done in Wisconsin.

While it was refreshing to see thousands of people there, who were passionate about workers rights, it was frustrating that there was no clear plan of action and a lack of support for the autonomous group that did occupy the rotunda for over two hours.

Lessons can certainly be learned from this action, particularly about tactics and strategy and the missed opportunities to use the large gathering of people to shut down business as usual for a Government dominated by people who don’t care about working families and to hold some sort of general assembly to discuss next steps to fight the Right to Work policies in Michigan.

Solidarity Forever!


12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2012 11:32 pm

    Thank you for writing this Jeff…I really wish I could have been there today. I would have occupied with you!

  2. Nicole Berens-Capizzi permalink
    December 11, 2012 11:34 pm

    Sorry, that was me. Meant to change my sign-in…

  3. GriidCheck permalink
    December 12, 2012 11:55 am

    And will Jeff tell you about this part of their glorious waste of time?

    Oh and try to be big enough to not censor this post. You have a nasty habit of erasing contrary views which isnt very “democratic”.

    Violent Mob Destroys AFP Tent in Lansing, Michigan Protest

    Union Assault on Camera

    Let me guess, it was really the victims fault, right? You know some of the radical left-wing types already are trying that line of bull.

    Jeff has purposely tried to paint some completely BS image of some peace and love sit in, when in fact this was a disgusting display of intimidation by thugs that thought that by making threats of physical violence and vandalism, they could force their will on the majority.

    If this was a display put on by a Tea Party group, Jeff would be here to tell you how Fascistic they were, but here it’s all good old typical “democracy”?

  4. richardkooyman permalink
    December 12, 2012 12:51 pm

    Steve Crowder, self described as the youngest Fox news reporter and commentator is the man who gets his clock docked in the video posted by Griddcheck. I’m surprised that nothing more than pushing over a Tea Party tent happened and frankly, I would have been supportive of something even more happening. Is that a statement of support for violence and thug intimidation? No. It is a statement of support for real protest against the political lying and manipulation the right, fostered by their puppet media Fox News has done.

    Any political party, organization, or news media that is subversive and oppressive to people should not be surprised when the those who have been oppressed strike back with frustration and anger.
    Steve Crowder’s arrogance and antagonism displayed when he asked the union supporters what their complaint with the legislation was not a journalistic question. It was not a personal inquire question. He knew the answer (or should have as a journalist) before he even asked it. He and his Tea Party supporters showed up at a heated public demonstration against the ensuing vote to provoke and gloat. They got what they deserved.

    No one condones violent but just as in the race riots and war protests of the past it’s understandable when it does happen.
    To have our legislators ram a bill through a lame duck session, to have a governor who expressed no interest in the past to pursue this legislation turn on an instant to support it, and then have our public arena, the capital of the voice of the people, closed off my a ring of Michigan State Police who have been militarized against the people they are suppose to protect, is inexcusable.
    Even the Constitution, which the Tea Party is so quick to wave in the face of liberal progressive people states that when the rights of a people are jeopardized, it is the right of the people to rise up against the state.
    Well, GriidCheck, you just saw people rising up. Get use to it.

  5. GriidCheck permalink
    December 12, 2012 1:02 pm

    “Steve Crowder, self described as the youngest Fox news reporter and commentator is the man who gets his clock docked in the video posted by Griddcheck. I’m surprised that nothing more than pushing over a Tea Party tent happened and frankly, I would have been supportive of something even more happening. ”

    There you go, folks. The violent nature of the radical left on display, where opposing views have no right to be heard, and if THEY dont like what you have to say, they will assault you physically.

    In the good old tradition of many dictatorships.

    “Well, GriidCheck, you just saw people rising up. Get use to it.”

    LOL! Is that what you called this? You guys were humiliated by the elected representatives of the people after being humiliated by the voters when all of your union-backed proposals went down to defeat.

    Michigan has had ENOUGH of the radical unions, and this time we are going to make sure you no longer have the ability to dictate to working families as to how they are going to live their working lives.

    Get used to it.

  6. YB Ordinary permalink
    December 12, 2012 8:40 pm

    Griidcheck (what was your name again? Cwrdly1?)-
    I saw your footage on Hannity last night, complete with Sean’s echo of your preposterous rant.
    I was also there when the tent came down yesterday, and, even though one union member wiped his dirty feet and then spat on it, I saw nothing that could be classified as violent or destructive. That tent is just fine, and ready to be set up tomorrow in the next state capitol on your list. (It might have to be washed, but the Koch Bros. can certainly afford that.)
    Poor little Mr. Crowder got just what he deserved in response to his provocation, and- admit it- just what he wanted, just what he was there for: some footage that you and Hannity could use to portray all union members as thugs and goons. Because one distraught guy threw one punch. Maybe if you show it a bunch of times in a row, you can make it look like more. (Oh, never mind, I don’t need to tell Fox and the righties how to distort the news- they wrote the book.)
    The real violence and assault that occurred yesterday was upon the working families of those union members, and all the other working families of Michigan that you claim to care about, oh so much.
    You and your right wing bosses disgust me. And if there’s anything I can do about it, we’ll send the whole lot of you and your stooges in the legislature packin’ next election.
    BTW, next time you post a comment, leave off the ads. They just make you look like a money-grubbin’ whore.

  7. SitInvertn permalink
    December 12, 2012 11:57 pm

    Peace love bottom upself go Fuck it, fight fight fight. Snyder is a constitutionalist, fierce defender of individual liberty, and totaly not a cock puppet of globalist CFR Devos. This guy tries to annihilate representative government with the EFM law, supports representative austerity/ euthanisation of the republics most sacred component the locality by bullying consolidation on the people. And you love him for the trivial lip service he pays to voluntary contracts, when he has demonstrated he and every sorry ass politician that rides his coattails/get in one of the establishment lines is goddamn traitor! If you have love for liberty find a more meaningful way to express it then riding establishment globalist dicks, get innovative. Your probably just a controlled head for the aristocracy that infiltrated and castraited the Tea Party, or a fair weather patriot that shouldn’t be allowed near a Gadsden flag.

  8. December 13, 2012 9:55 am

    It’s good to hear the occupation tactic was implemented, even if it did not stick (this time). This fight will certainly be a tough one, that will almost surely require unions return to their roots in many ways, in order to regain power for working people.

    As for “GriidCheck”, I support just monitoring/deleting his comments, which are only meant to insult and insite. This isn’t mLive.


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