INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Anti-Wall Street activists said on Friday they will march to protest Indiana’s new anti-union “right-to-work” law in downtown Indianapolis this weekend, where the New England Patriots and New York Giants will face off in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Organizers of the Occupy Wall Street movement said they expected activists from a number of different unions, including the National Football League Players Association, to participate in the protests.
Greg Lambert with Occupy Indianapolis said the protests would begin each day on the south lawn of the Indiana statehouse, which is located just blocks away from Lucas Oil Stadium, where the NFL championship game will be played Sunday evening.
But he said the group also planned to march both days from the statehouse to Super Bowl Village, a three-block, pedestrian-friendly theme park set up outside the stadium.
On Wednesday, Indiana became the 23rd state to pass right-to-work legislation, a measure that hits labor unions in the pocketbook by allowing organized workers to opt out of paying dues.
Indiana is the first state to adopt such a measure since Oklahoma did so a decade ago and the first right-to-work state in the nation’s manufacturing heartland.
Gov. Mitch Daniels, in office since 2005 and a prominent spokesman for Republicans nationally, said he concluded Indiana needed the new law after several businesses decided to locate elsewhere.
A spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said he respected the protesters’ right to free speech, and added that unions had been part of the four-year planning process that brought the Super Bowl to the city.
“They have been valued partners and we continue to value their contribution,” communications director Marc Lotter told Reuters.
Organizers of the weekend protests against the controversial measure promised the action would be peaceful.
Capt. Dave Bursten of the Indiana State Police declined to detail what plans law enforcement had for dealing with the protesters.
In recent days, opponents of the law have marched from the statehouse to Super Bowl Village without incident.
“We do have contingency plans in place for any action that they may choose to carry out,” Bursten said.
Reporting by Susan Guyett and James B. Kelleher; writing by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Tim Gaynor