Thousands gathered at the Indiana Statehouse Thursday to protest labor and education bills and to show support for House Democrats.
Official state trooper estimates put the crowd at more than 8,000 people at its peak, with 230 buses ferrying supporters all over Indiana as well as from Cincinnati, Louisville and Chicago. Also in attendance were two House Democrats who drove from Illinois Thursday morning. Indianapolis Representative Bill Crawford said he came to speak on behalf of all his colleagues still in Illinois.
“We’re standing for families,” he said, “we’re standing for the middle class, we’re standing for teachers.”
South Bend Representative David Niezgodski said the show of support boosts Democrat solidarity.
“I am overwhelmed,” he said, “I’m super-charged, and I can guarantee you, all of our members that are in Urbana right now are watching this on Skype, and I know that they’re feeling the very same thing.”
It’s unlikely Thursday’s protest was heard by many Republican members of the Indiana General Assembly, as most had been forced out of their Indianapolis hotel rooms.
Even before the Democrats’ absence, the legislature had planned to take Thursday and Friday off because those rooms would be needed instead by fans of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament.