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Protesters converge on Washington governor's office

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Protesters arrested at Washington state Capitol
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protesters unhappy with proposed budget cuts, including health services
  • Group took demonstration to outside governor's office
  • One charged with striking officers, others with disorderly conduct

(CNN) -- Raucous protesters unhappy with proposed cuts in state-funded health services in Washington state took their case to the governor's office, where 17 were arrested Thursday, officials said.

Members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) say the cuts would harm seniors and those needing mental health services.

House lawmakers are expected to vote this week on a budget plan that would slash state spending by $4.4 billion for the 2011-13 budget cycle, according to CNN Seattle affiliate KING. The Senate will follow next week with its own budget proposal.

The third day of protests brought a lockdown to the Capitol in Olympia late Thursday.

Demonstrators were forced out of a legislative gallery and stopped by state troopers outside Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire's office, said Robert Calkins, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

About 400 protesters were in the building, loud but orderly, Calkins told CNN. Some tried to rush to Gregoire's office.

"There were a group that planned to be arrested and they were accommodated," Calkins said. "We're happy to have people come down and express their opinion, but we want it to be safe for everyone involved."

One protester kicked an officer and elbowed another and was booked on two counts of third-degree assault, Calkins said. Sixteen protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and released.

Kathy Cummings, director of communications for the Washington State Labor Council, said up to 5,000 protesters, some from Wisconsin, are expected Friday.

Service Employees International Union brought 500 people to Olympia Thursday, she said.

Adam Glickman, vice president for SEIU Healthcare, said the protesters were engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience.

CNN's Marlena Baldacci and Cristy Lenz contributed to this report

 
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