Following the mass arrests of singers last week Wednesday through Friday in the Wisconsin capitol building’s rotunda, a band of conservative singers came together to sing on the building’s 1st floor. Meanwhile the anti-Walker singalong converged on the capitol square lawn so as to not disturb the conservative permitted event. That’s the sort of side-stepping of conflict with groups that the singalong has held to since March of 2011 when this all began.
By my estimate, 40-50 conservative singers joined blogger Dave Blaska while at least 150 singalong folks [some facebook accounts say “250”] created a solid crowd under what was jokingly called a “Solidari-tree” on the capitol’s lawn.
I thought initially that no conflicts took place today, but I was wrong. I got word through MacIver’s video channel that John “Sly” Sylvester of 93.7 FM was asking Dave Blaska questions about his pension (hmmmm) and was subsequently swiftly surrounded by police and “threatened with disorderly conduct”. Sly quit the questioning afterward.
I also found this video shared by Arthur Kohl-Riggs of the facebook page SSWIDTMS of a man he identifies as a “Knot” troll by the name of Matt Lepperd. Lepperd first calls Arthur a “douche” and then takes a swipe at Arthur’s camera.
There was another conflict with police when Bart Munger held his sign which simply said “Article 1 Section 4” at the periphery of the conservative singing group. [I briefly interviewed Bart at the end of the event] Police approached Bart and asked him to quit holding the sign. He complied. Immediately a man nearby, whom neither Bart or anybody else I know is familiar with, offered to hold the sign. Police then cuffed the man and led him away. Bart does not think that he was issued a citation and called it a “catch and release”. He mentioned two other men who were holding signs – one on the 1st floor another on the ground floor – and noted that neither of them was hassled by police.
I initially didn’t know if I wanted to set foot inside of the rotunda today given some of the casual chat (which in this context seemed like veiled threats) about carrying concealed weapons into the capitol building that I saw on the event created for today’s conservative sing called “Join the ‘We Got A Permit’ Singers”.
I went in and kept my distance, taking a few photographs of the singers. I heard them sing “God Bless America” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” which has the same tune as “Solidarity Forever”.
I’m really glad I missed their conservative perversion of This Land Is Your Land:
“This land is my land, it is not your land
I got a shotgun, and you ain’t got none.
If you don’t get out, I’ll let my dogs out
This land is private proper-TEE!”
(How does the godly singing reconcile with the shotgun threats? How does Lepperd’s swipe at Arthur’s private property reconcile with this ode to private property?)
And there was a chant repeated several times:
“2,4,6,8, Who do we appreciate. Walker, Walker, WALKER!”
After the conservative singers concluded, reporters circled Dave Blaska. And by ‘circled’ I probably mean mashed their bodies around him and pressed him with enough questions to launch his ego into puffed mode for another full year.
I then returned to the singing outside. The energy of the conservatives was certainly positive and they sounded sweet enough, but they lacked a band [musicians usually accompany singers outside] and they can’t match the rollicking exuberance of a people who are speaking something they don’t easily find regurgitated on TV or radio. I think the conservatives also don’t need the singing as much. This was just another dish in their political buffet which already provides them the GOP-controlled executive, legislative, and judicial branches of my state.
For singalong participants, singing is a freedom more delicious the more elusive it becomes and for each snide troll (journalistic or Knot) there are dozens of singers that come together over, and over, and over to protest Walker in unison. Reliably. Courageously. That is glad, joyous, soulful solidarity in the flesh that corporate cash can not buy though it sure knows how to ignore it.
Speaking of ignoring it, that was one of Walker’s tactics. It’s now discarded, eh? You might want to enjoy this precious singalong thing while it lives. I’m a little worried Walker will risk the worst PR and deep-six this using whatever means necessary now. Presidential candidate wannabes who want to flash an unintimidated brand don’t like getting upstaged by their truly unintimidated citizens.
By the way, I got those lyrics from
Solidarity Sing Along welcomes rival group of conservative singers at Wisconsin Capitol at The Isthmus
Here’s WPR’s report:
‘We Got A Permit Singers’ Gather At Capitol To Poke Fun At Solidarity Singers
Find more of my photos from today at facebook.
The singalong occurs every weekday at noon in the rotunda or at the “Lady Forward” statue where State Street meets the capitol square.
I don’t know if they sang this song. Wouldn’t surprise me though:
“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition
And we’ll all stay free”