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Protesters Disrupt Start To Wash. Special Session

Austin Jenkins


OLYMPIA, Wash. - Protesters disrupted the start to Washington's 30-day special session - resulting in four arrests and 30 tresspass warnings. Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol to deal with a $1.4 billion budget shortfall. Students and others associated with the Occupy movement took over the House and Senate galleries and delayed a budget committee hearing.

The day started with advocates for the disabled rallying on the steps of the state capitol. The sang and chanted in support of Governor Chris Gregoire's proposed half-penny sales tax increase.

But soon the protests got more intense. A small group of teachers with a group called Social Equality Educators unfurled a banner from the House gallery and started chanting ""Tax the rich, fund our schools," to the lawmakers below.

Across the rotunda, students and Occupiers — some in face masks and bandanas — took over the Senate's upstairs galleries. A few Democratic senators cheered and took photos.

Later in the day, protesters swarmed the House budget committee and forced a delay.