More news from Protest City: After the arrest of 17 people today for unruly protests at the Governor's Office over budget cuts and state funding, the State Patrol and Department of General Administration locked the Legislative Building.
GA spokesman Steve Valandra said the building could remain closed until its regular 7 a.m. opening Friday. But Capitol staffers with keycards can get in, and others who get an escort into the building can be allowed in while lawmakers are in session this evening.
The lockdown comes on the third day of a four-day wave of protests that included an overnight protest last night and the action by the Service Employees International Union activists today. SEIU representatives were to meet with Gov. Chris Gregoire around 5, union spokeswoman Linnae Riesen said.
The already militant protests – against budget cuts hitting education and health care, and in favor of closing tax exemptions for banks and other industries to raise money – should crescendo at noon Friday when as many as 5,000 people are expected on the Capitol steps.
The Washington State Labor Council and Washington Federation of State Employees plan the event. The rally is getting high-profile guest –Wisconsin state Sen. Spenser Coggs, one of the 14 Wisconsin Democrats that fled the state in a bid to block their governor’s proposal to take away collective bargaining rights. The federation had offered sanctuary to the Wisconsin 14 in February.
Kathy Cummings, spokeswoman for the Labor Council, said in an email:
UPDATE to original 5:13 p.m. post: Olympia activist Monica Peabody, who stayed all night in the Rotunda as part of Wednesday evening's protest, said it is unfair that lobbyists get into the Capitol while members of the public are blocked from meeting with their elected officials. Peabody is leader of POWER, Parents Organizating for Welfare and Economic Rights, which helped staged a protest on Tuesday.