Mar 21, 2011
On March 16th – the same day that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed Emergency Financial Manager legislation – public employees and their supporters poured into the state capitol to loudly protest this outrageous legislation.
During this all-day rolling demonstration, the inside of the capitol reverberated with noise from workers and students. Outside, there were enough people that a crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 was able to be maintained all day.
Perhaps as many as 8,000 – teachers, state workers, firefighters, construction workers, nurses, auto workers, retirees, small business owners, high school students, and college students – participated throughout the day.
Many carried hand-made signs – funny, poignant and angry. There was a consensus that all unions and all workers are under attack and those in power have crossed the line.
Denouncing the new taxes on pensions, a favorite refrain was: “Don’t Tax Grandma; Don’t Tax Grandpa!”
Denouncing the horrendous budget cuts, the crowd chanted: “They say cut back; We say fight back!” and popular all day was the chant: “ENOUGH is ENOUGH!”
It was encouraging that so many came on just a few days’ notice from towns and cities all over Michigan. This was the largest and loudest protest so far this year. There have been a series of protests since the attacks were first announced in February.
Few seemed daunted when, despite the crowd, the governor signed the legislation as expected. As one state employee put it: “We lost one battle, but the war continues.”
And two days later, on Friday, students from a number of Lansing high schools walked out of school and went to the state capitol to protest cuts to the schools.