Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two days of protest rallies at the Michigan Capitol building

Over the past two days, Lansing, Michigan has seen tremendous crowds showing up for protests at the Capitol building. Around 1,100 people showed up on Tuesday for an AARP-sponsored "It's not fair!" rally and, yesterday, about 5,000 flooded the Capitol lawn and occupied the Capitol for two and a half hours after it was closed.

They were there to protest Republican Governor Rick Snyder's draconian new budget and a recently-passed bill that he will soon sign into law that gives him the power to declare financial emergencies in municipalities and appoint an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). The EFM would have unprecedented powers -- a sort of "Super Czar" -- such as the ability to cancel contracts and even dismiss some or all of the elected officials in the municipality.

The budget he has proposed pays for nearly $2 billion in tax breaks for corporations by eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit (which benefits the working poor), taxing private and public pensions (which hurts the elderly) and cutting school funding (which hurts kids). Successful targeted business tax breaks like for the film industry, redevelopment of "brownfield" sites and for the developing vehicle battery industry are also being eliminated.

My coverage of the Tuesday rally (which I did not attend) can be found HERE.

What follows is a portion of my liveblogging, done from my iPhone, throughout yesterday's rally. It is cross-posted from Eclectablog. A version with larger photos can be seen HERE.

Liveblogging from the Michigan Capitol protest rally in Lansing, Wednesday, March 16, 2011.

1:15pm - This guy is a tea partier. I overheard him tell the guy next to him, "Well, I'm going to try to get some recognition for this [sign] and get it plastered all over the fucking place." He stopped to pose for me no fewer than three times and he posed for anyone with a camera.

Notice that his buddy in the white shirt next to him has the Swastika/Snyderkamph image literally taped to his shirt. That shirt is an SEIU shirt. Shades of Mark Williams???

At least 3,000 people here and growing.

Some friends of mine at the activist's tent:

2:15 - Got to be 5,000 people here now with more flowing in.

2:50 - Speaker from the NAACP: "If we are honest, we will admit that some of us here today voted for the WRONG people last year. If we want change, we have got to vote for the RIGHT people and throw the bums out! ... We have to go back to our neighborhoods and ORGANIZE!"

Amen, brother.

The Michigan Nurses have a HUGE presence here. Clipboard from the OFA table where they are collecting info from rally antendees for Working Michigan, a coalition of Michigan unions.

Live video from inside the Capitol building taken at 3:40. Sorry for the crappy iPhone quality.

They are chanting, "What's disgusting? UNION BUSTING!"

It is LOUD in here right now!

4:30 - Former MI-07 Congressman Mark Schauer: "We need a HIRING plan, not a FIRING plan!"

Next at the podium, president of the Michigan Education Association.

Round three of speakers on the Capitol steps. Still several thousand people here.

5:15 - The man who should be Governor, Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero at the podium.

5:33 - The Capitol building is now officially closed and I am actually inside. there is a HUGE throng of people in the Rotunda chanting and a LOT of cops running around looking very concerned.

5:52 - Approximately 100 people have taken up residence in the Capitol Rotunda. Lots of chanting and discussion about how to let in the hundreds of people outside trying to get in. Cops are saying we three minutes before we have to leave.

6:00 - As fun as it might be to be arrested, I have left the building. Others are actually being arrested.

Here's the scene outside the back of the Capitol:

Reports are that some people were maced trying to enter the Capitol.

Phone dying. More tomorrow.

9:00 - Home now. The Michigan State Police were in VERY large numbers inside the Capitol. They ended up arresting 11 kids regaining control of the building and locking it up. I say "kids" because most of the "occupiers" were in their 20s.

That last picture was literally the last photo I took and uploaded before my iPhone died. It was the perfect capstone photo for the day. Oh, and can I give a big shout out to my iPhone? All the live blogging except the last entry was done using it. Magic to me.

I'm just sayin'...

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