More than 1,000 protesters chanted, marched and yelled as attendees arrived Tuesday evening for a Republican dinner at the in Troy.
The 9th Congressional District Republican committee's Southeast Michigan Ronald Reagan Memorial Dinner 2012 was the event, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's appearance there was the draw for protesters.
The crowd, estimated by Troy police to have reached about 1,300 people at one point, chanted "What do we want?" and an answering "Justice!" and "When do we want it?" "Now!" The protests, which started about 5 p.m. in advance of the 7 p.m. dinner program, stretched a whole block of Big Beaver Road.
The Michigan chapter of the National Action Network headed by the Rev. Charles Willams II planned the protest along with representatives of the UAW and other labor unions as well as the Occupy Detroit movement. They planned to deliver a "subpoena" to Walker and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who they call "co-conspirators against the 99 percent."
Many people in the crowd were teachers, and many were there with their children.
"I'm concerned about the erosion of my profession," said Novi teacher Chandra Madafferi. "When you strip away collective bargaining rights, you're taking away things like class size, calendar, working conditions – other things besides wages and benefits.
"My concern is that people won't go into teaching because they can't support their families. When the quality of teachers go down, the kids suffer."
Melissa Gronzo, a teacher from Utica, held a sign that said "Jobs" with question marks surrounding it. "He's cutting funding for education left and right," Gronzo said. "It's not fair to the kids."
Alan Gieleghem of Pontiac, who teaches in Troy and was there with his wife, Christine, and their daughter and niece, said, " We're just here to support collective bargaining."
Maria Stanczyk was at the protest with her daughters, Jenny, 8, and Nina, 10. "I'm a teacher and I want them to know we're not going to take this lightly and we're going to vote," Stanczyk said.
Others, such as Matthew Fiems of Canton, said they were there representing the "99 percent," standing against "the greed and policies of Walker and Snyder."
"They're killing us here in Michigan," Fiems said.
Two more protesters, Southfield resident Chiriga Sparks, left, and Torrey Green, of Detroit, said, "We are the 99 percent."
Teresa Sweeney, 21, of Ferndale said, "We have to stop the corruption and support the unions."