Politics
David Dudenhoefer, left, a right to work supporter, receives a thumbs down sign from a union worker during a rally in Lansing, Mich., Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Michigan protesters tear down conservative group’s tent, with people inside

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

Pro-union protesters tore down a tent belonging to the conservative organization Americans For Prosperity outside the state capitol building in Lansing, Michigan on Tuesday.

A video posted by the MacIver Institute claims to depict several protesters in hardhats tearing down the tent, followed by cheers and whoops from the crowd.

“Our tent was ripped down by union activists actually tearing it down with knives, with people inside it,” Americans for Prosperity communications director Levi Russell told the Daily Caller.

“One of the people inside it was our state director in Michigan, and he said that he was stomped on under the fabric as he was trying to get out. It was only after the police brought in their squad and pulled people out that he was able to get out,” Russell said.

The Americans for Prosperity tent has been planted in that location since late last week to support the “right-to-work” legislation expected to be signed into law today by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

The right-to-work bill, which would give Michigan workers the freedom to choose whether or not to join unions, is fiercely opposed by organized labor and the Democratic Party. President Obama criticized the bill during a visit to an automobile factory in Michigan on Monday, calling it politically motivated.

Local Michigan news site MLive.com reported that AFP called the police in order to rescue the people trapped under the tent — two of whom were in wheelchairs.

“We had been contacted by that group that they had three or four people that were actually trapped underneath the tent,” said Lt. Mike Shaw. “Two of them were in wheelchairs and there was also a propane tank in there. So we had to send troopers out, and naturally, the crowd was not too receptive.”

“I’ve seen people getting roughed up and shoved around, but there are hundreds of cops there maintaining some sort of order,” Russell said.

“It’s disappointing to see the violence, and the tactics,” Russell said. “This kind of anger and violence is the result of the misinformation and scare tactics that the protesters have been fed by the unions.”

Russell said he has not heard of any serious injuries to his colleagues.

Many of the protesters are reportedly public school teachers who ditched their classes to join the protest — canceling the school day for 26,000 students across the state. At least one school district even cancelled classes ahead of time so that teachers could attend the protest.

The actions of the protesters follow comments made by state Rep. Doug Geiss (D-Taylor), who gave a speech on the House floor promising that if the bill became law, “there will be blood.”

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