Protesters march on state Capitol, bang on doors

Protesters march on state Capitol, bang on doors

March 15th, 2011 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

NASHVILLE - Dozens of union members and their supporters banged on the doors of the state Capitol today, shouting "Chop from the top" and "It's our house."

Union members said they wanted to have impact on debate in the Legislature on at least 11 bills that they say attack unions and collective bargaining rights for teachers.

The crowd was part of a larger demonstration that formed in Legislative Plaza earlier today before marching to the Capitol, where Gov. Bill Haslam has his offices. There was no violence and no arrests were reported.

The crowd as urged to march on the Capitol by Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council President Jerry Lee.

Darrell Bouldin, 25, said Tennessee Highway Patrol officers initially blocked the protesters from entering the Capitol, but later allowed them to come inside. However, only 75 protesters at a time were allowed in, Bouldin said, and they were told no shouting and no protest signs.

"I feel like that's a violation of freedom of speech," he said. "We have a right to be here. And it's the people's house."

By 1:30 p.m. CDT all the protesters had left the Capitol and proceeded to the Legislative Plaza to press their demands.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.