LANSING, Mich. –As Gov. Rick Snyder was preparing for his State of the State address, the Capitol lawn slowly filled in with people, standing side by side, protesting a variety of issues.
About an hour before Snyder took the podium Wednesday night, the mixed crowd outside became more raucous; chanting things like, “liar, liar” and “right to work has got to go.”
Pro-union demonstrators, often drowning out the other groups, marched around the Capitol grounds.
Michigan State Police were ready, and said their main goal is always to keep the public safe – both inside and outside the Capitol.
“At any event at the Capitol, we expect there’s going to be demonstrations,” explains 1st Lt. Chris Kelenske. “That’s one of our most basic rights, freedom of speech.”
Scanning the crowd, you’d find public school advocates, environmentalists, women’s health supporters; move towards the sound of the drums, and you’d find the Idle No More group, fighting to protect land set aside for Native Americans.
And you’d also find Corinne Turner from Barry County.
“We want to help educate the public on fracking,” Turner said. “We are very concerned about drilling on our State land, because we use those public spaces for recreation, it’s the heart and soul of Barry County.”
Just as Governor Snyder’s address started, one Representative walked out.
“I left the meeting in protest because of the right to work legislation, and the emergency manager act that was imposed on the city of Detroit.” First-term democrat Rep. Rose Mary Robinson continued, “without debate, without democratic involvement, without the people’s involvement, I’m angry.”
Robinson says she’s upset with what happened before she was sworn in – so are many of the protesters, especially those against the Right to Work law that was pushed through a lame duck session.
“I would have like to have seen the people themselves have a voice in the matter,” says third generation bricklayer Cecil Hogan. “I, still, would have been against (right to work), but if that’s what most of the people want, I’ll go to another state and work for a living.”
While they may be angry that Governor Snyder signed the bill, many union supports have not lost hope.
“We’re going to overturn (the law) over, one way or another,” promised Mike Green, UAW 652 President. “We’re not going away, we’re going to be here till election day to hold those accountable that did this to us.”
Although the protests were loud, Michigan State Police says nothing got out of hand.