Thousands of teachers rally at Capitol, McConnell building sign vandalized

04/13/2018 12:42 PM

FRANKFORT — Thousands of teachers from all across the Commonwealth gathered on the steps of the Capitol building in Frankfort on Friday, as lawmakers began their final hours of the 2018 legislative session inside.

Teachers poured out by the busload at the base of the steps leading up to the state Capitol building on Friday, many carrying homemade signs aimed at Gov. Matt Bevin, and the many statements he has made this year — including calling some teacher’s thugs for targeting the business of Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, after he carried early versions of the pension bill.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear wormed his way through the massive crowd that was reminiscent of an inauguration — only this crowd was there to boo down the current Republican leader. Beshear was swarmed by teachers, who congratulated him for bringing suit against the pension bill, which has been signed into law.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes also attended the rally, which kicked off around 9 o’clock in the morning — as schools around the state closed their doors because of a lack of teachers in classrooms.

Grimes’ staffers were also on site on the Capitol steps registering voters for the November elections, and many teachers carried signs and sported t-shirts promising to vote lawmakers out-of-office this year, and next.

“The growing passion I see from Kentuckians – educators, students, public employees, first responders and advocates – gives me great hope,” Grimes said. “But the rallying must spread beyond the Capitol grounds and advocacy must continue past the end of this legislative session. Energy does not win elections, people do. I am challenging every Kentuckian who cares about the direction of our Commonwealth, transparency and respect in our government, and support for public education, public employees, and small businesses to use their passion to rally to register.”

Many teachers’ Pure Politics spoke with on Friday morning said they wanted to support teachers and call for sensible reforms.

“This session is stressful to watch, first how they took a lot of our pension money away, and that’s happened for a lot of years, but now they’re trying to lay it on the taxpayers to pay it back — all that’s wrong,” said Terry Quillen who teaches in Fayette County.

Quillen and others are advocating for forms of revenue to pay back the pension debts, leave retirement benefits alone and find alternative sources of revenue.

As teachers swarmed the Capitol, there was one instance of reported vandalism at the Republican Party of Kentucky headquarters where someone had spray painted over the sign at the Mitch McConnell building.

Tres Watson, the Republican Party Spokesman, told Pure Politics the vandalism diminishes the protestors cause.

“We respect and embrace individual’s right to demonstrate but vandalism by those protesting does nothing but diminish the cause they’re fighting for,” he said.

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