Riot police in Lansing, Michigan used chemical agents and horses to control thousands of protesters demonstrating for and against the state legislature's passage of a highly controversial right-to-work bill on Tuesday.
One witness shot video of a mounted policeman trampling a demonstrator with his horse.
The Times-Heraldreports that two people were arrested while protesting outside the George Romney state office building.
CBS Detroit reports that clashes broke out between supporters and opponents of the right-to-work bill, which prohibits requiring union members from paying dues as a condition of employment. Republicans, who control both houses of Michigan's legislature, support the measure because it reduces the power of unions and, they claim, makes the state a more attractive investment destination for corporations.
Opponents of the measure say it is a blatant attempt to crush collective bargaining. President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue on Monday, slamming right-to-work laws as "giving you the right to work for less money."
If Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, signs the measure like he has promised to do, Michigan will become the 24th state to enact a right-to-work law.
CBS Detroit reports that police pepper-sprayed a volunteer trying to control the crowd, which was estimated to number as many as 10,000 people. The Times-Herald reports that as State Police responded to shouting protesters by forming a line of mounted officers to push the demonstrators away from the state Capitol steps, the crowd grew even more upset and tore down the tent of the pro- right-to-work group Americans for Prosperity.
"Keep your hands off others people's stuff," one of the pro- right-to-work demonstrators shouted.
"Keep your hands off my money," retorted a pro-union protester.
Anti- right-to-work demonstrator appealed to police, shouting "this affects you, too" and "you're not following your oath to protect the people," according to the Times-Herald.
But the officers did not appear to be sympathetic to the protester's pleas. While pushing back the crowd, one mounted officer knocked down and trampled a man, who was seen lying immobile next to a toppled Segway scooter. Enraged protesters booed and shouted obscenities at the mounted officers.
Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk told the Times-Herald that he felt "good" about the day's action.
"We're feeling good today," he said. "We have enhanced police presence and we want to be highly visible so people feel safe and secure."