Michigan State Police now have opened investigations related to the two highest-profile incidents to emerge from last week’s right-to-work protests at the capital complex in Lansing. A state police spokesperson confirmed to TPM Friday that investigations are looking into the collapse of a conservative group’s tent during the protests last Tuesday as well as the punching of a Fox News personality caught on camera.
Labor groups, which brought more than 10,000 protesters to Lansing to protest right-to-work legislation that sailed through the Republican-controlled state legislature last week, have distanced themselves from both incidents. Conservative groups say the collapse of the Americans For Prosperity tent and the punching of Fox News contributor Steven Crowder — both of which created a viral video sensation in the days following the protests — are prime examples of union thuggery.
State police spokesperson Shanon Banner confirmed to TPM that AFP activists and Crowder have officially reported the incidents to the police, kicking off investigations.
Crowder, who initially drew criticism from the state police when he declined to press charges for days after he was punched on camera, asked police Friday to look into the incident.
“As with any complaint, we will now initiate an investigation,” Banner told TPM.
Michigan Democrats have distanced themselves from the Crowder incident. On Hardball last week, state Rep. Doug Geiss — who drew criticism of his own after he said “there will be blood” after the Michigan right-to-work law passed — condemned the Crowder incident.
“I do not condone punching anybody in the face,” he told Chris Matthews.
The AFL-CIO, which helped organize the pro-labor protests, did not comment on the Crowder investigation or the AFP tent investigation. A spokesperson said the union “can’t discuss an ongoing investigation.”
The AFP tent incident came on the same day. Activists with the group, which set up the tent to rally in favor of the right-to-work laws, say pro-labor forces pulled the tent down. The then fell over some AFP equipment and personnel still inside. (Some progressives claimed AFP brought down its own tent, a charge the group strenuously denies.) A spokesperson for the group told TPM last week that some union protesters helped rescued AFP protesters from under the collapsed structure. According to the state police, the AFP tent incident is now also a subject of investigation.
“The complaint is a report of stolen and damaged property belonging to a member of the group Americans for Prosperity,” Banner told TPM.