From a flier produced by the General Defense Committee of the Detroit GMB, IWW
On March 16th, 2011, thousands gathered at the Capitol Building in Lansing to protest Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed budget, Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) bill, and an array of laws aimed at attacking union contracts and working class communities.
Although an AFL-CIO organized rally, March 16th was a broad representation of Michigan’s labor Unions, poor, students, and community organizations. From protests in Madison, WI to inspiration from the mass democratic actions of the “Arab Spring”,
Lansing was a direct reflection of a growing working class movement organized to defend ourselves against austerity legislation and authoritarianism. Snyder’s proposed $1.7 billion budget cuts includes a 15% reduction in funding for public universities, 40% cut to libraries, a pay cut for public employees, elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families, and the list goes on. These cuts are made under the pretext of needing to “balance the budget”. Instead the $1.7 billion in social cuts will be used to accommodate a $1.8 billion tax break to Big Business.
The newly passed EFM bill allows the Governor to appoint an Emergency Financial Manager to take over any community that is deemed to be in a state of “financial emergency”. The EFM is granted power to eliminate collective bargaining, remove elected officials from office, and dissolve political structures such as councils and school boards. EFMs are nothing new. Ex-Governor and Democrat Party leader Jennifer Granholm has already used EFMs to attack Benton Harbor and the Detroit Public Schools, but now Governor Snyder has expanded the powers of EFMs.
Late in the day during the Lansing protests about 100 people entered the Capitol building minutes before the building officially closed. Inside, they chanted, sang, and some made powerfully moving speeches. Outside, Lansing Mayor Bernero made a speech saying that no one inside the Capitol Building would be arrested for protesting inside their own Capitol building. Minutes later the city police left, the State Troopers entered and protestors were arrested one at a time, picking off the more outspoken ones first.
Many of the protestors started to leave to avoid arrest, but after a group discussion 5 people decided to sit-down inside as an act of civil disobedience. In the end, 13 people were arrested and now 11 are facing charges, stiff fines, and potential jail time. The arrested protestors are workers, union members, and students. All are young people who were at the protests to stand up for and demand a better future. They include members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Socialist Party (SP), Organization for a Free Society (OFS), By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), and individual activists.
Those arrested in Lansing need our support and solidarity. The protestors were in Lansing because democracy is being undermined for the benefit of the few. This is not about a single constituent. The budget and EFM law are an open attack on all working class peoples, our communities, and the basic principles of democracy. We must organize to fight back against this austerity, with all moving forward none left behind! An injury to one is an injury to all!