LANSING, MI - About a half dozen people who were protesting against right-to-work legislation were arrested outside the Senate chamber shortly after 12 p.m. today.
The protesters, who are among an estimated 3,000 union members and others demonstrating against right-to-work bills at the Capitol, were arrested for impeding the flow of pedestrian traffic, said Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk.
He said the protesters were trying to push their way into the Senate chamber and laid down in a common walk way. They were asked to move and did not, so two troopers responded with CS gas, or mace, he said.
“They have a right to protest, we want to keep them safe, but the people who work here and the little kids that are coming here for tours have an expectation to be safe also,” Adamczyk said. “We’re here to protect both sides.”
Union members and others in the Senate gallery applauded and cheered for those who were arrested as they were brought through the Senate floor. (see video below of police leading out some protesters in handcuffs).
Around the same time, police blocked all access to the capitol, citing pockets of density that threatened the "structural intergrity" of the building.
"It was a state police decision in unison with Capitol Facilities, who manages this building" said Adamczyk.
Adamczyk told MIRS that police are concerned that people are congregating in one area, which could compromise the building's structure.
"As soon as the State Police believe it is safe to let people in again, the building will be reopened," MIRS wrote.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer motioned to recess pending a lawsuit that she says has been filed by Democratic chair Mark Brewer to force the building open.
Dozens were shut out, including United Auto Workers President Bob King, AFL-CIO President Karla Swift and American Federation of Teachers President David Hecker.