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Demonstration at Pacific Steel Briefly Turns Violent

| March 22, 2011
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workers go on strike at Pacific Steel

Demonstrators backed off after Berkeley police pushed them away from trying to block a gate. Peter Jon Shuler/KQED

Our reporter Peter Jon Shuler was on scene at Pacific Steel in Berkeley Tuesday, where he says protests briefly flared and turned violent.

Hundreds of workers picketed the plant today. They went on strike yesterday over having to pay more of their health benefits, which they say amounts to about a 10 percent pay cut. Representatives from Pacific Steel Management say they won’t comment outside the negotiations.

Peter Jon Shuler was outside the gates this afternoon when police in riot gear appeared. Picketers were trying to block the gates to stop a delivery, and police proceeded to form a line to push the protesters back and clear the gate. He says almost instantly, the scene turned violent, with officers hitting some protesters with batons, including a pregnant woman.  Paramedics took her to the hospital but she didn’t appear to have serious injuries.

After a chaotic scene, Shuler says demonstrators backed off. Police remain on the scene.

Peter is back in the newsroom now, working on his radio story to air this afternoon on KQED News. If you miss it live on KQED Radio, you can hear find it in our audio archive.

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