protests

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Black Friday is attracting shoppers and protesters.

Picketers stood outside more than a dozen Michigan Wal-Mart stores this morning.

Marilyn Coulter is with the Coalition of Labor Union Women.    She says this is “RED Friday” for minimum wage workers in Michigan.

“Because they’re in the red because they’re working and they are not getting paid enough money to be able to live and feed their families,” says Coulter. 

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss what to expect from the Legislature’s lame duck session, repercussions from Ferguson, and a fund to help Detroit pensioners.


Gerri Trager / Flickr

The nonprofit group that manages Detroit's riverfront walkway says its restrictions on organized activities including protests are reasonable.

The Detroit River Front Conservancy on Thursday released a statement after the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this week said the group was violating the First Amendment by preventing people from holding protests. The conservancy says that's not the case.

The ACLU said a security guard ordered a small group of people taking part in an anti-war march along the Detroit River Walk last summer to stop. The ACLU said that that violated the free speech rights of the group Women in Black, and it asked the conservancy to change its policy.

Women in Black said it wants to march at the river Saturday afternoon. The conservancy said Thursday it welcomes the planned march.

The city of Birmingham has settled a federal lawsuit by adopting a new free speech policy.

The Michigan ACLU sued the city after animal rights protesters were arrested last year.

Protesters with the Southwest Michigan Animal Rights Team (SMART) were holding signs and passing out literature outside a Birmingham fur store in December 2012.

Police told the protesters they had to “keep moving” in order to be there. When one protester questioned the officers, she was arrested and charged with loitering.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Safety drills in schools are being ignored

Under a proposal in Lansing, schools would be forced to report when and how emergency safety drills are conducted. As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reports, state police officials say too many schools are ignoring laws meant to ensure school safety. The reports would have to be posted on schools’ web sites whenever they conduct a safety drill.

Tracking by cell phone GPS could become a felony

Another piece of legislation in Lansing would make it a felony for police officers to track someone by GPS in their cell phone without a warrant. The US Supreme Court ruled last year that the practice is unconstitutional. Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin says the legislation is necessary to make sure law enforcement agencies are held accountable for such actions.

Fast food workers protesting in Detroit and Flint

Workers at some fast food chains in Detroit and Flint are expected to walk off the job as part of a protest for higher wages today. They want to be paid fifteen dollars an hour. Michigan’s current minimum wage is $7.40. The strike is expected to affect some McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy’s and other fast food restaurants.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Buena Vista and Inkster school districts to be dissolved

The state is moving ahead to dissolve the Inkster and Buena Vista school districts. Both districts failed to meet a deadline yesterday to prove they could keep their doors open next school year. Now state officials say it could be a matter of days before the districts are dissolved, Michigan Public Radio's Jake Neher reports.

Protesters arrested at pipeline worksite

Enbridge energy is building a 285 mile pipeline across Michigan that will carry tar sands oil. The pipeline will replace the one that ruptured three years ago. Yesterday, protesters chained themselves to heavy equipment at a worksite southeast of Lansing. They say the new pipeline will present an environmental threat. Twelve people were arrested at a protest yesterday, Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports.

Will Detroit retirees see pension cuts?

A federal bankruptcy court will now be the scene for some huge decisions about the future of Detroit which filed for Chapter Nine protection last week. One of the key issues is whether retirees will see their benefits cut. Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett has more.

Postal workers protest end to Saturday service

Mar 24, 2013
usps.com

Hundreds of postal workers who oppose plans to cut home delivery from six days to five have picketed outside U.S. Postal Service offices in Michigan.

The Detroit News says about 600 people marched in protest Sunday at a post office in suburban Southfield.

MLive.com says about 100 postal workers from around the state demonstrated Sunday in Grand Rapids. They carried signs and waved at passing cars.

The signs included the messages "Save America's Postal Service" and "5-Day Is the Wrong Way to Save the Postal Service."

Students took to the streets of Battle Creek this morning to protest recent depictions of violence surrounding Battle Creek Central.
battlecreekcvb / flickr

A student-led march in downtown Battle Creek this morning protested recent violence and attempts to blame the violence on Battle Creek Central High School.

Over 2,000 marchers from across Calhoun County took to the streets in support of Battle Creek Central.

From the Battle Creek Enquirer:

Michigan State Capitol Building
Nikopoley / Wikimedia Commons

Several rallies at the state Capitol were timed to coincide with the Legislature’s only session day this month.

The largest was a group of about 150 abortion rights advocates protesting a package of bills before the state Senate.

The bills call for strict regulations on abortion providers.

One of the speakers was Renee Chelian. She works for a group of family planning clinics in metro Detroit. Chelian says protests have slowed down the bills after they cleared the state House last month.

user Bubba73 / wikimedia commons

DETROIT (AP) - About two dozen people chanting "pay your fair share" were escorted from the General Electric Co. shareholder meeting in Detroit's Renaissance Center as more than 1,000 others picketed outside the downtown building.

Organizers said Wednesday morning's protest was part of the "99 percent" movement and a call for GE and others in corporate America to pay a fair share in taxes.

The crowd later marched onto nearby Jefferson Avenue, where traffic was temporarily blocked. Detroit police, including some on horseback, monitored the demonstration. No arrests were reported.

GE spokesman Gary Sheffer has said GE's 2011 U.S. income tax rate of 25 percent has been paid.

Laura Weber / Michigan Public Radio Network

About a thousand protesters marched on Governor Rick Snyder’s residential neighborhood in Ann Arbor yesterday evening. They marched to ask Governor Snyder to repeal the state’s controversial emergency manager law.

The rally started at on the eastern edge of Ann Arbor, and about a mile-and-a-half from Governor Snyder’s house. Protesters marched, chanted and sang, hoisted signs and lit candles. They wound in a long line through the tree-lined neighborhood of gently rolling hills spotted with the occasional large house. They were greeted outside of Snyder’s gated community by the governor’s chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore.

Reverend Charles Williams II of Detroit’s King Solomon Baptist Church told Muchmore to tell the governor that the law negates the will of voters in struggling communities.

“And we need democracy here, in Detroit, Benton Harbor, Inkster, Ecorse and Flint.”

“Will do.”

“Thank you.”

“We’ll do that. Thank you very much.”

Muchmore says the governor wants to work with people living in financially strained communities, but that the cities must also be protected from insolvency.

Flickr/theqspeaks

The Reverend Al Sharpton and others say they plan a demonstration Monday outside the home of Governor Rick
Snyder to protest a law that makes it easier for Michigan to take over financially struggling communities and school districts.

Organizers say the protest will happen on Martin Luther King Day at Snyder's home in Washtenaw County's Superior Township, near Ann Arbor.

Sharpton and other ministers and civil rights activists will participate. Organizers say the law seems to target black communities. Snyder has said the law isn't racially motivated.

Emergency managers are in place in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Flint and Detroit schools. Detroit's finances are under a review that could bring the city under state financial control as well.

user k1ds3ns4t10n / Flickr

The permit allowing Occupy Detroit protestors to camp in Grand Circus Park expired Monday but city officials granted a one-week extension, allowing protestors more time to clean up and relocate to another venue.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Some council members likened the peaceful Occupy Detroit to the civil rights movement aimed at extending rights to disenfranchised black people.

"All of us sit here because some people fought, because some people occupied, because some people demonstrated," Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said. "They did it because it was the right thing to do."

Saying the Occupy Detroit protesters have been peaceful and cooperative, Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. said he was not opposed to the one-week extension.

Yesterday, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported that there seemed to be little animosity amongst protestors regarding an eventual move:

Occupy Detroit participants says an extension will benefit everyone.

“[It’s] so we can maintain our peaceful protest within Grand Circus Park, and leave within a reasonable amount of time," says activist Zachary Steve. "We'll be able to clean up the park, and make sure to maintain a good relationship with the community."

Occupy Detroit says it plans to move its encampment to another, privately-owned location in the city for the winter months.

- John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A minister faces charges of disturbing the peace for protesting Holland City Council’s decision against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its anti-discrimination laws. The proposed changes would have given homosexual and transgender persons protection from discrimination by employers and landlords. City Council voted 5 to 4 in June 2011 against moving to adopt the local ordinance.

“It’s not about me. It’s not about (city council),” Reverend Bill Freeman Said, “It’s about people who are being discriminated against in the City of Holland just because of who they are and I don’t think that’s right.”

Freeman and others have attended every city council meeting since the decision to ask city council to change their minds. Earlier this month some city council members told the group they wouldn’t change their minds, adding that the group should change their tactics.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York showed up at a Democratic fundraiser hosted by Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday evening.

Biden made stops in Flint and Grand Rapids to promote President Obama’s American Jobs Act before switching to campaign mode.

At least 50 protesters marched on the sidewalk outside the $500 per dinner private event. The event raised money for the 2012 presidential election.

“We can get Mr. Biden’s attention,” Richard Ertl said. He’s wearing a sticker on the back of his head that reads “we are the 99%”. “We can get them to listen to us and know that we’re starting to gel up and become cohesive as a people,” Ertl said.

Ertl and other say they’re not protesting Biden but want to send a message. He says protestors want politicians to listen to one another and work together to solve the nation’s financial problems. 

“Occupy Grand Rapids" held its first big meeting over the weekend. They’re now camping out in a church parking lot (private property) downtown after spending several days in a public park near the Grand River.

He says they meet for general assemblies everyday at noon and 6 p.m.

Dane Hillard / wikimedia commons

Update 5:37 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Rina Miller is at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn and phoned in the above reports.

On their live blog, the Free Press reports that "several hundred people have gathered outside the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn for a Terry Jones counterrally, listening to speakers who have pleaded for peace and understanding.

Crowd members are carrying signs that say, 'We are Peace,' 'We Are Islam," and 'Hope, not Hurt.'"

Update: 4:32 p.m.

The Detroit Free Press reports that members of assorted police departments have gathered at the site of the planned counter-protest outside of the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. The Freep reports they have riot gear "on hand visible inside several vans, including helmets and sticks."

From the Freep:

Emergency crews from more than a half-dozen agencies are gathered outside the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn.

They are on guard for a scheduled 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. counter-rally organized by Detroit-area religious leaders in response to a Florida pastor’s desire to hold his own rally outside Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America, one of the nation’s largest mosques.

2:40 p.m.

Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who organized a Quran burning last month, plans to hold his anti-Muslim rally tonight at 5 p.m. at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn regardless of the outcome of this afternoon's trial.

He said during the trial that he knows of 5 people from his church who will be there.

Prosecutors say more than 10,000 people could show up to counter protest his rally and they fear violence could erupt.

They liken Jones' intent to hold an anti-Muslim rally outside one of the largest mosques in the United States  to shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.

A counter-rally has been planned at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn 3 miles away from the mosque.

It's scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Rina Miller will attend the rallies and file updates for us.

K. Sawyer / Flickr

Controversy continues to swirl around collective bargaining rights--and the protests that recent legislation has sparked--in Michigan and Wisconsin.

At issue now is a number of Freedom of Information Act requests done by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

The requests have been made for information on faculty at Wayne State, Michigan State, and the University of Michigan.

Some critics are claiming that the FOIA requests are being used to intimidate college professors from participating in pro-labor protests.

There was another protest today at the state Capitol – the third rally this week.  Hundreds of Lansing high school students walked out of class to march on the Capitol. 

Some of the students sunned themselves on the Capitol steps, took pictures, laughed, and chatted on their phones, while others stood by the road and waved signs. They called out to passing drivers to honk if they opposed budget cuts called for by Governor Rick Snyder.

Joe Gratz / Flickr

A judge has temporarily blocked Wisconsin's controversial new law affecting collective bargaining rights in the state. Here the update from the New York Times:

A judge issued a temporary restraining order on Friday that prevents Wisconsin’s new law cutting collective bargaining rights for public workers from taking effect, at least for now.

The decision, issued by Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court, temporarily bars Wisconsin’s secretary of state from publishing the controversial law, one of the procedural requirements for it to come into effect in the state.

Publication had been expected late next week, but Judge Sumi’s ruling delays that until at least March 29, when she plans to hold a full hearing on a lawsuit that questions the validity of the collective bargaining law based on the speedy manner in which it was carried out earlier this month.

An appeal is possible even before then.

Opponents of the measure said they hoped the decision was but the first of many that would ultimately undo legislation that has split the state and drawn tens of thousands of demonstrators to the state capital over a matter of many weeks.

Supporters of the measure, however, said the judge’s decision was merely a blip, certain to be overturned as various legal efforts make their way fully through the court system.

Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker has said that the law will shield taxpayers and improve Wisconsin's business climate.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

(photo by Laura Weber/MPRN)

UPDATE:  A growing number of angry labor-movement supporters are showing up at the state Capitol to protest Republican proposals to tax pensions and limit union control.  A drum circle played on the Capitol lawn, surrounded by thousands of protesters with signs, a 15-foot inflated eagle, and flapping American and U-A-W flags.

There were big, hulking men in hardhats, businesspeople in suits, and young parents pushing strollers.   

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