Kalmazoo Gazette: Large Kalamazoo crowd protests Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget

March 25, 2011- One after another, a litany of speakers got up in front of the crowd gathered in Bronson Park.

“What does democracy look like?” they each asked the crowd at one point or another. “This is what democracy looks like!” crowd members roared back each time, pumping their fists in the air.

There was no shortage of comments about Gov. Rick Snyder and his proposed budget plan Friday afternoon at the gathering in downtown Kalamazoo. Despite the bite of freezing wind, a large crowd gathered to protest the governor’s proposed budget.

“They are trying to balance the budget on the back of working-class people,” said Joe Michilizzi, 45, a journeyman pipefitter. “It is clear they are trying to break the back of working-class people.”

Among the speakers were State Rep. Kate Segal, Kalamazoo City Commissioner Don Cooney and Al Zagarell, president of Western Michigan University’s American Association of University Professors.

Zagerall called the budget a reverse Robin Hood situation — stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.

“This isn’t a union, nonunion issue; it’s a working-class-family issue,” said Hugh Coward, chairman of Southwest Michigan Building and Construction Trades. “Mobilize, energize, and kick these people out of Lansing.”

Several speakers returned to the idea of standing together to voice concern for the way their government is being run. Many raised the question: “What kind of state do you want to live in?”

Snyder has said lowering taxes for businesses will help spur job growth.


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