Capitol-area roads to be closed ahead of protests

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Associated Press

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 2:02 AM

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Some roads around and leading to the Michigan Capitol already were being closed or restricted ahead of anticipated rallies Tuesday and following raucous demonstrations last week to protest right-to-work legislation, while two large suburban Detroit school districts canceled Tuesday's classes because teachers were heading for Lansing.

One road to the west of the Capitol in Lansing will be closed to vehicle and foot traffic on Monday, and traffic and parking will be banned on several other roads in the area from 6 a.m. Tuesday, state police said in a statement.

Hundreds of chanting, whistle-blowing demonstrators thronged the Capitol last Thursday as right-to-work bills were introduced and approved hours later.

Inside, eight people were arrested after authorities say they disobeyed orders and tried to rush past two state troopers and into the Senate chamber. Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings said Monday that he was filing felony charges of resisting and obstructing police against the eight.

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has pledged to sign the legislation.

Police said rules governing access to the state Capitol will be strictly enforced this week.

"All of the measures we are taking at the Capitol are to ensure the safety of those working and conducting business in the Capitol and the surrounding state buildings," state police director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue said in the statement. "Our responsibility includes safeguarding the Constitutional rights of those attempting to petition their legislators, and enforcing these rules allows us to provide a safe forum for everyone."

Opponents of right-to-work laws spent the weekend mapping strategy for protests and acts of civil disobedience. More protests are expected on Monday. They plan to gather Monday evening near Snyder's home in Washtenaw County's Superior Township, near Ann Arbor.

About 50 protesters picketed Monday outside Michigan government offices Monday in downtown Detroit, chanting slogans that included, "Gov. Snyder: Just say no."

Earlier in the day, about a dozen members of the Michigan Nurses Association stood on the steps of the state Capitol and covered their mouths with tape. Organizers said the gathering was meant to symbolize the silencing of unions could happen with the legislation.

On Monday night, pro-union carolers gathered outside Snyder's gated community near Ann Arbor and sang Christmas songs, including "Jingle Bells" and "Joy to the World." They also sang an altered version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" to include children learning, autoworkers welding, police protecting, shoppers shopping, teachers teaching, families eating and firefighters saving.

About 35 people took part in the caroling, according to AnnArbor.com.

Monday's small protests came a day ahead of what is expected to be a much larger demonstration in Lansing, when the House and Senate may reconcile wording differences.

The Warren Consolidated Schools canceled class for 16,000 students because 500 of 800 teachers took personal days Tuesday, the district announced. The 9,000-student Taylor School District also canceled class.

Right-to-work laws prohibit requiring employees to join a union or pay fees similar to union dues as a condition of employment. Supporters say it's about freedom of association for workers and a better business climate. Critics contend the real intent is to bleed unions of money and bargaining power.

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Online:

Procedures for use of Michigan State Capitol: http://1.usa.gov/GDwerF

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