Around 5 p.m., the Department of General Administration and police decided to restrict access the building to lawmakers, staff and lobbyists, Valandra said. A small group of protesters continued to demonstrate outside the building.Howie P.S.: Follow today's activities on SLOG with live reports from Goldy on the continuing saga of "#pizzagate."
"We made a decision that it was in the best interest of the security and safety of the building tonight," Valandra said, adding that it was the first time in his 11-year tenure that he recalled the building being closed to the public.
The move drew criticism from Democratic leaders in the state Senate, who said they were not consulted beforehand and disagreed with the decision. Lawmakers decided to hold off resuming the Senate floor session until the building was reopened to the public, said Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown.
This week's protests are scheduled to culminate in a major rally Friday that is expected to draw several thousand people.
The Washington State Labor Council, which helped organize the protests, posted an announcement on its website calling Friday's event "the big one."
"Washington's working families are tired of being blamed and punished for the damage done by Wall Street banks and corporations," the group said, urging citizens to join its call to lawmakers to "put people first."
If Friday's crowd swells to the size organizers are predicting, the protest could be the largest at the Capitol in recent years. In 2003, tens of thousands of Washington teachers gathered to protest cuts to education funding. MORE...
Friday, April 08, 2011
AP: "13 arrested at Wash. Capitol budget demonstrations"
Robin Hindery (AP):