INDIANAPOLIS — A mix of union members and Occupy protesters from across Indiana marched through Super Bowl Village on Saturday in opposition to the state's proposed right-to-work legislation.
About 75 marchers weaved through packed crowds at the pre-game street fair in downtown Indianapolis in the first of what could be several such protests before the big game Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The protesters chanted "Occupy the Super Bowl" and carried signs that read "Fight the Lie" and "Workers United Will Prevail."
Saturday was the second straight day of right-to-work protests in the Super Bowl Village. About 40 people picketed the opening of a zip line in the Village. The 800-foot zip line allows participants to clip onto a wire about 100 feet off the ground and glide almost two blocks.
Most onlookers stared in silence as the protesters walked past them, but some like Jason Leibowitz of Jamestown were upset about their outing being interrupted. "There's a place and a time for this," Leibowitz said. "This isn't it."
Organizers of the march say the protests will likely continue if Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signs the divisive bill into law this week.
Supporters of the legislation, mostly Republicans, insist the measure helps create a pro-business climate that attracts employers and increases jobs. Opponents say the measure only leads to lower wages and poorer quality jobs.
Before Saturday's march, Occupy Purdue organizer Tithi Bhattacharya, a professor at Purdue University, led a rally in front of the Statehouse that included union workers, Occupy protesters, two representatives and a state senator among the speakers.
Most emphasized that while the right-to-work legislation appears likely to pass following Wednesday's House vote approving the bill, that doesn't mean an end to protests.
"If the governor signs, I want to shame him out of this state," said Heath Hensley of Occupy Anderson. "He doesn't want us screwing up this Super Bowl."
State Senator Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, called the bill evidence that Republican legislators are not in touch with the needs of working-class voters. "If you voted Republican in the past, stop," Breaux said.
Hensley, Breaux and other speakers urged protesters to convince their friends and family members to vote out anyone who decided in favor of the bill.
Another Statehouse protest is planned for Monday's Senate hearing on the bill, and Bhattacharya said that if the bill passes, there will be plenty of angry people who may keep protesting through game day.
The Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots is expected to draw more than 150,000 visitors to Indianapolis.
"Upsetting the Super Bowl — I couldn't care less," protester Lou Feldman of Lafayette said. "This is about my life and my family. Maybe it will make some people notice."