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Thousands protest at Michigan Statehouse

March 17, 2011 at 1:27 AM

LANSING, Mich., March 17 (UPI) -- Thousands of union members and other protesters crowded the Michigan Statehouse Wednesday for a demonstration against Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget.

The rally was noisy, but mostly peaceful, The Detroit News reported. Crowds chanted "It's not right," referring to Snyder's plan to cut benefits and reduce collective bargaining rights for state employees.

"It's the Republican reverse Robin Hood -- steal from the poor and the working class and give it to the rich and wealthy," United Auto Workers President Bob King yelled in a speech on the Statehouse steps.

The rally was the biggest in the Michigan capitol so far this budget season, drawing 3,000 to 4,000 people, the newspaper said.

At the end of the day, as one group of protesters tried to stage an overnight sit-in, state police had made 11 arrests, charging 10 with trespassing and one with resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer, the Detroit Free Press reported. One man, Steven Haynes, 28, apologized for keeping police at work through the dinner hour.

"The entire day went really well," Police Capt. Gary Nix said. "We had a lot of people here doing the American thing, speaking their minds. These last people were late coming and they had a different agenda."

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