Protests End With Arrests

Friday, April 8, 2011 - 9:47am

Home health care workers upset with proposed state budget cuts hauled out of Washington capitol.

More than a dozen people were arrested Thursday at the Washington state Capitol as part of protests against proposed budget cuts, disrupting the work of legislators trying to close a $5 billion budget deficit.

It was the third day of demonstrations by labor groups at the state Capitol, calling attention to budget cuts they called "immoral."

About 30 people were escorted outside by state troopers for making outbursts during the session.

House members had to take a 30 minute break because of it.

Things got uglier outside Gov. Chris Gregoire's office, where 17 people were arrested, according Bob Calkins, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

Sixteen were booked for disorderly conduct and one was arrested for allegedly assaulting a trooper.

"Let us in," they chanted, followed by "We want the governor."

Calkins said the group was trying to push their way into the governor's office.

Dozens of people got an early start Thursday morning, after spending the night on the hard marble floor of the main legislative building.

Several Democratic lawmakers brought bagels and orange juice for the protesters.

The Washington State Labor Council said the protests would focus on proposed cuts to state-funded health services.

The Capitol was placed under lockdown Thursday night and was expected to stay that way until Friday morning.

That means the main entrances are locked.

The building remains open to the public, but only through one side door.

Legislative business is going on as scheduled.

House lawmakers are expected to vote this week on a budget plan that would slash state spending by $4.4 billion for the 2011-2013 budget cycle.

The Senate will follow next week with its own budget proposal.

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