staff and news service reports
updated 4/8/2011 7:53:58 AM ET 2011-04-08T11:53:58

Authorities arrested 17 people protesting proposed budget cuts at the Washington state capital, local media reported, citing the state patrol.

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The arrests came after a crowd of about 400 protesters converged on Gov. Chris Gregoire's office Thursday afternoon.

State Patrol spokesman Robert Calkins said a scuffle broke out as authorities tried to keep them from entering the office. He told The Olympian that the protesters pushed on, shouting "let us in" and "we want the governor."

"They need to listen to us," one of the arrested protesters, Sharon Kitchel-Perdue, told the paper.

Troopers cited one person for assaulting two state troopers and cited and released the rest for disorderly conduct, Calkins told the newspaper. He added that two troopers hit by a protester weren't seriously hurt.

"It was getting pretty hairy in here," a trooper on the scene, Sgt. John Sager, told The Olympian.

Authorities say the incident prompted officials to temporarily bar the public from the main legislative building.

It was the third day labor groups gathered in Olympia protested cuts aimed at closing Washington's looming $5 billion deficit.

Earlier Thursday, the House had to take a half-hour recess because about 30 people made outbursts during the session, KING-TV reported. Troopers escorted the protesters out, the station said.

About 50 protesters slept inside the Capitol Wednesday night as part of the demonstration. Some Democratic lawmakers came to work Thursday with bagels and orange juice for them, KING reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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