September 18, 2014

Protesters storm the Capitol (VIDEO)

Following the Senate’s vote on a stripped down version of the budget repair bill, massive crowds began converging on the State Capitol in protest. Those not already in the building when the Senate began taking action though were left locked outdoors initially. However, just after 8pm, doors were opened by those still inside the Capitol and thousands began rushing in to the building.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcgcSV7jtwE

Police had been blocking doors because the Capitol building was closed, but Department of Administration spokesman Tim Donovan says that plan was abandoned after protesters started trying to force their way in and security was being breached all over. Donovan says police pulled back after it became clear they could not successfully keep everyone out.

Protesters had spent several hours banging on windows and doors. Donovan says there were reports of broken doors and windows, although the extent of the damage likely would not be clear until after events had calmed back down.

A crowd estimated at up to 7,000 people filled the building on Wednesday night, with the sound of drums and protest chants echoing through the Capitol. Many people started to again bring in sleeping bags despite a court order last week barring protesters from staying in the building overnight.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je9QpcXlq_s

Donovan says they would work to prevent people from violating the order, but police have no intention of forcibly removing anyone from the building. He says the main goal of police at this point is to keep everyone safe.

The state is calling in extra law enforcement to respond to the increased number of protesters. An extra heavy police presence is expected later today, as the Assembly prepares to vote on the modified budget repair bill.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:00)