(LANSING, Mich.) — The conservative group Americans for Prosperity has filed a police report regarding the destruction of their food tent allegedly by pro-union activists during right-to-work protests at Michigan’s State Capitol in Lansing Tuesday.
The violence took place as Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder put his signature to the state’s “right to work” bill, the 24th state in the nation to enact such legislation. Snyder signed the measure after the state’s GOP-controlled legislature passed it by a 58-51 vote.
The state’s powerful unions, led by the auto industry, claim the bill is a political move meant to weaken them and their constituency, which primarily votes Democratic.
The Americans for Prosperity group was at the Capitol to show support for the measure.
Opponents of “right to work” showed up on Tuesday to protest, in what was termed by leaders as “peaceful civil disobedience,” by linking arms to block entrances, chanting and singing.
A number of pro-union demonstrators allegedly destroyed the conservative group’s tent along with the food supplies of longtime hot dog vendor Clint Tarver, who says he was caught in the middle of the violence. The Americans for Prosperity group had hired Tarver as a food vendor.
Tarver claims some protesters used the “N” word towards him during the violence and complained that he was “on the wrong side.”
There has since been an outpouring of support for Tarver. Lorilea Zabadal, an aide to Michigan state Representative Al Pscholka, tells the Detroit News she started an online fundraising drive to help replace Tarver’s damaged equipment. By late Wednesday afternoon, more than $15,000 had been donated through an account at gofundme.com.
Ray Holman of the United Auto Workers Local 6000 says the majority of pro-union demonstrators did not participate in any violence, and suggests that some Republican activists might also bear some of the blame.
“People on the far right side of the political spectrum had tried to instigate and provoke problems,” Holman claimed.
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