Protesters rally against Gov. Snyder at Blossomtime Parade

May 7, 2011

People came from as far away as Wisconsin to protest Governor Rick Snyder’s appearance in a parade through St. Joe and Benton Harbor Saturday afternoon. The governor of Michigan is invited to be the Grand Marshall of the parade every year.

“They asked me some time ago to participate in this wonderful festival and event and I’m happy to be here. And to the degree that people are exercising their democratic rights, I respect that. But it’s mainly about a quarter of a million people having a great day enjoying a wonderful part of Michigan.”

About 150 protesters mixed in with those gathered to watch the Blossomtime parade. They followed Snyder throughout the parade chanting “Recall Rick now!” and “Shame!” But there were some cheers of support mixed in with the demands to recall Snyder.

Traci Orsillo was excited to watch her kids march in the parade for the first time. But the first thing she saw was some masked protesters.

“I said ‘well why are you wearing masks?’ cause they were telling us they were here protesting and fighting for their rights. I’m like ‘then why are you wearing masks and hiding?’ and they told me to mind my own business. I said but you’re in my business! You’re in the middle of what I’m here for.”

Orsillo says Snyder’s opposition has some valid points to make, but she thinks they picked the wrong place to make them.

Mary Valentine drove more than an hour from Muskegon to take part in the protest. The former state representative says the new powers for emergency managers sets a dangerous precedent for every community in the state.

“We protested when Snyder walked by but there was a long, long distance between Snyder and the next act. This is why we’re doing this, is for families and for children so they will have their democracy when they grow up. Every venue is a good venue.”

Protesters rallied against an amended state law that gives more power to emergency managers appointed to run cities and school districts at risk of going bankrupt.

Three Michigan cities and one school district have emergency managers. Benton Harbor’s was the first to use new powers granted by the state.