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Pickets Pepper Sprayed By Police

Police sprayed pepper gas on unruly newspaper pickets Saturday as hundreds of people blocked the entrance to a printing plant in the strike against The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.

Two people were arrested at the plant, where the Sunday combined edition of the News and Free Press is printed. They probably will be charged with disorderly conduct.

A combined edition had been put out by management and replacement workers since July 13 when the strike began.

The confrontation at the plant began when officers tried to force pickets back from the main gate.

One officer was hit in his face shield by a brick and another officer was hit with a stick, said police Chief Thomas R. Derocha. The two were not injured. It was not immediately clear how many pickets were sprayed with pepper gas.

“The only pepper gas used was when the officers were virtually attacked,” Derocha said. “The gas was used by several officers who were trying to fend off people coming toward them.”

Police gave up, at least temporarily, their attempt to clear the driveway, Derocha said. The traffic was blocked at the plant at about 1 p.m.

Susie Ellwood, a vice president of Detroit Newspapers, which runs the business operations for the two papers, said earlier demonstrations at the plant have delayed deliveries but not affected distribution.

About a mile away, national union leaders joined a rally in support of striking workers. When they heard about the confrontation, the crowd marched to the plant, chanting, “We are the union, mighty mighty union.”

The people from the rally swelled the crowd at the plant to about 1,200.

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