LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Right-to-work demonstrators should expect to find a much greater police presence when they arrive at the Michigan Capitol steps in Lansing on Tuesday.
Some roads around and leading to the Capitol will be closed or access will be restricted starting Monday ahead of anticipated rallies and following raucous demonstrations last week to protest right-to-work legislation, state police said.
Hundreds of chanting, whistle-blowing demonstrators thronged the Capitol last Thursday as right-to-work bills were introduced and approved hours later. Inside, eight people were arrested after authorities say they disobeyed orders and tried to rush past two state troopers and into the Senate chamber. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has pledged to sign the legislation.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said there will absolutely be more police on the scene Tuesday.
“.. In fact, the numbers have almost tripled,” Skubick said. “There were 55 troopers here last Thursday. I’m told the ranks will be replete with 150 troopers brought in from all over the state.”
Skubick said only one entrance to the Capitol will be open on Tuesday and capacity for the building will be set at about 2,000. As people come out of the building, more people will be let in.
“The state police make it very clear: They do not want to have any problems with demonstrators,” Skubick said. “They recognize the constitutional right to protest, but they also have to protect the life and limb inside the building and the property.
“I had one state police source here tell me, ‘We are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best,” Skubick said.
One road to the west of the Capitol in Lansing will be closed to vehicle and foot traffic on Monday, and traffic and parking will be banned on several other roads in the area from 6 a.m. Tuesday, state police said in a statement.
Police said rules governing access to the state Capitol will be strictly enforced this week.
“All of the measures we are taking at the Capitol are to ensure the safety of those working and conducting business in the Capitol and the surrounding state buildings,” state police director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said in a statement. “Our responsibility includes safeguarding the Constitutional rights of those attempting to petition their legislators, and enforcing these rules allows us to provide a safe forum for everyone.” (More on the rules/restrictions here).
Opponents of right-to-work laws spent the weekend mapping strategy for protests and acts of civil disobedience. More protests are expected on Monday. They plan to gather Monday evening near Snyder’s home in Washtenaw County’s Superior Township, near Ann Arbor.
Earlier in the day, about a dozen members of the Michigan Nurses Association stood on the steps of the state Capitol and covered their mouths with tape. Organizers said the gathering was meant to symbolize the silencing of unions could happen with the legislation.
More demonstrators are expected in Lansing on Tuesday, when the House and Senate may reconcile wording differences.
Right-to-work laws prohibit requiring employees to join a union or pay fees similar to union dues as a condition of employment. Supporters say it’s about freedom of association for workers and a better business climate. Critics contend the real intent is to bleed unions of money and bargaining power.
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