'Worker freedom' tent ripped down; filmmaker punched in the face
LANSING – For the second time in two weeks, union members resorted to violence at the State Capitol as they protested right-to-work bills that were being voted on in the House.
Early Tuesday, union members from across the nation and Michigan who gathered on the lawn of the Capitol were peaceful. Police crowd estimates were unavailable, but eyewitnesses put the crowd outside at about 3,000. No matter the estimate, more children missed school today because teachers skipped school, which forced the closure of some districts, than there were protesters at the Capitol.
The mood outside the Capitol changed just before lunch when an angry crowd of union members stormed a tent that had been sent up by Americans For Prosperity. The union members, chanted, “knock it down” then rushed inside and tore down the tent. They later stole some of the food and beverages inside, broke equipment, and harassed members of the "workers freedom" coalition who were trying to make sure people were not getting trampled inside.
State and local police made their way to the tent and regained some control. Mounted police also came to the scene briefly.
Last week, police used chemical spray on protestors who tried to storm the Senate chamber. Eight people were arrested and charged with felonies.
By late afternoon, union members began leaving and the speakers, which included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, were done trying to rally the crowd.
Warning: Some strong language on videos.
Union protesters chant "knock it down!" Shortly after, the straps were cut, the tent was stormed, the posts were knocked down, and the structure collapsed with people inside.
The "worker freedom" tent was rushed and torn down by union protesters.
Union workers take out knives and cut the tent up after it is taken down.
The union crowd becomes unruly and, after cutting the support ropes, begin pulling down the tent. There were a few members of the "worker freedom" group inside; including some with children.
Senior Investigative Analyst Anne Schiber talks with union protesters. Teachers tell her why they took "sick leave" in order to be there while social activists and legislators fire up the crowd.
After destroying the "worker freedom" tent, union protesters begin to take care of the rest of the equpment and formerly-hanging lights.
After the tent is destroy, union protesters shout down the director of Americans for Prosperity and the police rush in on the crowd after the tent collapse, shoving back on some protesters.
Videos courtesy of Capitol Confidential reporters with additional coverage from Matthew Needham, Josh Anderson and Joe Nutter, members of the Michigan State College Libertarians.