Between 8 and 9, the union leadership directed the protestors to kick Michigan Americans for Prosperity people off the Capitol's front steps, which the AFP had reserved, and destroy their banner. Jimmy "the hit man" Hoffa revved up the crowds midmorning by congratulating them for that thuggery, then shouted, "This is OUR state, we OWN Michigan!"
The following first person account comes from a blogger who was present on the scene during the union violence.
I joined a handful of people who supported Right to Work Legislation in Lansing yesterday. While the union goons circled the AFP tent like a pack of hyenas all morning, I ventured out with my friend Wendy, and videotaped the crowds as they swelled from a few hundred at 8 AM to at least 15,000 by 11:30AM. We also spent considerable time observing the planned events that culminated in a near riot.
Between 8 and 9, the union leadership directed the protestors to kick Michigan Americans for Prosperity people off the Capitol's front steps, which the AFP had reserved, and destroy their banner. Jimmy "the hit man" Hoffa revved up the crowds midmorning by congratulating them for that thuggery, then shouted, "This is OUR state, we OWN Michigan!" I believe it was about then that one of the AFP tents was pulled down.
Goonish agitators began to gather at the entrance of the remaining AFP tent, and the crowd pressed forward into the few AFP men and union "captains" who were trying to maintain the peace. Then Steven Crowder arrived. As soon as he attempted to talk to the protestors, the captains formed a wall between him and those he was trying to engage. They loudly announced he was a youtube provocateur, and warned the crowd to not talk to him, while leaning back into him. Most of the mob stared blankly in non-recognition, and generally ignored Crowder for the next hour or so.
About 20 minutes before the tent was ripped down, the sizable crowd facing the entrance and surrounding the tent began to take on the characteristics of mob like behavior. Beating plastic buckets with wooden spoons they chanted, "Fuck this tent!" , "Pull it down!", "Snyder is a dick!", plain old "Bull-shit!" and something along the line of, "This is what democracy looks like!"
In reviewing the videotape, I noticed something weird; the rhythmic bucket beating quickened it's pace as the mob got more restless. My son, a videographer, was standing in front of this mess of humanity when an AFP volunteer got tired of being hit with a sign, and grabbed it in his hand. Suddenly, the mob surged forward amidst a staccato bucket drumming, and a fight broke out, shoving my son into the tent where he attempted to film union members who had breached the walls and were busy tipping over tables. He noticed a man wearing an "anonymous" mask.
At that point, I was outside filming, but trying to get in to rendezvous with my son. The union men sneeringly let me through. People were not completely panicked, but it was clear we had to get out of the tent. As we exited out the back, my son filming all the way, protestors were dismantling it. They laughed and jeered as we walked to a safe spot beyond the perimeter.
I immediately phoned 911 and begged them to send officers. As a few people stood up beneath the shroud of the tent, struggling to escape, the mob surged again, and laughed uproariously. AFP's Scott Hagerstrom stood on some wreckage and shouted for order. He was grabbed from behind and nearly lost his footing. Shortly afterward, mounted police arrived to leisurely make their way across the collapsed tent. I don't believe anyone was arrested.
It was my general observation that the vast majority of the protestors spread around the Capitol were satisfied with chanting and treating the demonstration like a festival, and were possibly not aware, at the time, of the wonton destruction and fear caused by their brethren. The thought that 15,000 human beings wouldn't care if someone was trampled as long as their union could own the state, is too repulsive for me to contemplate.