Protesters Clash With Police During Right-to-work Protests

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

"Sustained high energy" perhaps best describes the thousands of vocal protesters as they shouted, banged and chanted during right-to-work protests in Lansing Thursday. Each shout, pound and sign--a symbol of desperation as protesters struggled to have their voices heard.

"Show me what democracy looks like--This is what democracy looks like," shouted protesters.

Eventually dozens of Michigan State Police confronted the union workers in riot gear. It was during our interview with one protester that police pushed him and the line of protesters back away from the capitol building.

"We are fighting for our rights today. We are making sure Mr. Snyder hears us loud and clear for the right to work," said John Heidelberg, a protester from Howell as Troopers in Riot gear moved protesters away from the capitol.

At least three people were arrested, many more were pepper sprayed. Mark Schauer was one of them.

"Working men and women, they want a decent working wage. Right-to-work is a horrible economic policy," Mark Schauer, a former congressman. "They will earn less and will make Michigan less competitive. The problem is this puts Michigan on a pathway to compete with low skill, low wage states. We should be in a race to the top rather than a race to the bottom."

Troopers on horse back separated protesters from the capitol. Law enforcement were out in strong numbers.

Union organizers set up a stage in front of city hall. It's where they have had various people speak to get the crowd fired-up to make as much noise as possible. Mayor Virg Bernero, Senator Gretchen Whitmer and the Reverend Jesse Jackson were among the speakers.

"I don't know when downtown Lansing has ever looked this good," said Mayor Virg Bernero as the crowd cheered. "This is what Michigan looks like. It's not just what democracy looks like. This is the real Michigan. It ain't the one percent. It's the 99."

"We're ready to take this all the way to 2014, but I want to beat them now, so let's tell them what we want him to do. Veto. Veto.Veto," said Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer.

Reverend Jesse Jackson said workers need to fight back.

"There must be one day when teachers don't go to schools and drivers don't drive the trucks or workers don't man the assembly lines -- a major, one-day strike to make workers presence felt," said Reverend Jesse Jackson, a well-known civil rights activist. "They have taken our jobs to cheap labor markets and trying to make america a cheap labor market. We should lift their wages, not lower ours."

Only time will tell if the workers do go on strike, but Mark Schauer vows they will.

"This is not a one day protest," said Schauer. "Organized labor and all who want to build a strong middle-class in Michigan are united, and we will continue to be united and continue to work and communicate and organize until these bills are overturned."


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