Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, center, walks Wednesday through the Hart Senate Building on Capitol Hill, with two associates for meetings with senators.
updated 12/14/2005 7:43:56 PM ET 2005-12-15T00:43:56

Police officers were called to a meeting of the state elections board Wednesday after a student protest interrupted a vote that could put a ban on some affirmative action programs on the state’s November ballot.

As the Board of State Canvassers prepared to vote, high school students chanted, “They say Jim Crow, we say hell no!” and moved toward the front of the room, knocking over an empty table where witnesses give testimony.

No one was arrested or told to leave the meeting, which drew more than 200 high school students from the Detroit area. The board temporarily adjourned, planning to resume later in the afternoon.

“We’ll just wait a minute to see if we can take up the board’s business,” said canvasser Katherine DeGrow, a Republican.

The ballot proposal would ban race and gender preferences in government hiring and university admissions.

The four-person canvassers board, which has two Democrats and two Republicans, deadlocked over the summer on whether to approve the petitions, leading the group that gathered the signatures to go to court.

Last week Michigan Court of Appeals repeated an order that the elections board put the proposal on the November ballot.

Opponents of the initiative have said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court. They claim some black people were tricked into signing the petition, thinking it would protect affirmative action programs.

The measure’s sponsor, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, denies the allegations.

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