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Gregoire says protesters who break the law will be arrested
Posted by Andrew Garber
Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday warned that protesters at the state Capitol who break the law while demonstrating will be arrested.
"When I have six officers who've been injured and one other state employee who's been injured, something is wrong," she said.
Gregoire contends a small group of radical protesters are drowning out the voices of other demonstrators who want to discuss the impact of state budget cuts.
"They are not allowing the true message of the people who want to send a message," she said. "Let those who are here to violate law, let's arrest them. Let's tell them we're not going to tolerate it."
Demonstrations are planned every day this week, as lawmakers work to bridge a $2 billion shortfall in the state's two-year budget.
On Monday, an estimated 3,000 people demonstrated at the Capitol, many protesting budget cuts to education and social services. A much smaller number disrupted legislative hearings Monday and Tuesday, and some refused to leave the statehouse rotunda after it closed.
More than a dozen people were arrested during those protests and state troopers used Tasers on several occasions.
Protesters on the other hand complain they've been roughly handled and treated unfairly by the state.
State troopers gave trespass warnings to about 30 protesters on Monday who refused to leave the Capitol building after it closed. Protesters given the warning are told they can't return to the Capitol for 30 days or risk arrest.
"The trespass warning given on Monday was an undemocratic and unconstitutional attempt to intimidate people from exercising their First Amendment rights to protest and to participate in the legislative process," Helen Gilbert said in a statement released by the Seattle group Radical Women.
The statement said Gilbert, a member of Radical Women, was one of the people arrested Tuesday while protesting budget cuts, and charged with criminal trespass. Gilbert called the arrests and use of Tasers on demonstrators "preemptive bullying."
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