State troopers arrest Karen Washington, left, outside the governor's office Thursday.
OLYMPIA — Sixteen protesters were arrested outside the governor's office today in the third day of demonstrations against proposed budget cuts. Fifteen were cited for disorderly conduct and released, while one was also cited for assaulting two state troopers, and jailed.
Protesters swarmed into the Capitol Building around lunchtime, marched around the hallways outside the Senate and House chambers chanting slogans lilke “This is what democracy looks like” and “Who's house? Our house.”
Around 15 were ejected from the House gallery when they stood to speak to the legislators on the floor below. After escorting them out, however, Washington State Patrol officers released them without arrest.
About an hour later protesters gathered outside the governor's office on the floor below the legislative chambers. While some confronted a phalanx of troopers in front of the office doors, others pushed in from behind. Patrol officials warned them that they would be arrested if they did not step back; the ones who remained were arrested, mostly without incident.
They were taken to a room on the lower level of the Capitol, where a patrol spokesman said they would be cited and released unless they have other problems, such as outstanding warrants.
Karen Washington, a home health care worker from Spokane, was among protesters in the House gallery, and was later among those group arrested outside the governor's office.
She said she came from Spokane on a busload of protesters to try to convince legislators to close tax exemptions for some businesses instead of adopting an all-cuts budget. The group went into the gallery because “we knew they wouldn't be able to hear us” inside the House chambers. The chanting is significantly muffled inside the chamber because the doors to the chamber are thick, and walls are lined with marble on both sides.
Protesters have talked to some legislators, but don't feel like they're making much headway, Washington said. “When the legislators say 'Yes we know, but —' There is no 'But.”
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