Capitol Police Observe MLK’s Birthday with an Episode of Racial Profiling

January 15, 2013, was the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. should have been celebrating his 84th birthday. (Was he really only 39 when he was assassinated? I was 11 at the time. I thought 39 was ancient then. Now it seems so very young.) January 15 was also the day of Scott Walker’s annual State of the State address, and the day a troubled young man, Kvon Smith, posted on Facebook that he was planning to bring Molotov cocktails to the Capitol.

Having received a heads-up about Smith’s plan, and having determined that it was a credible threat, the intrepid Capitol Police, those daring keepers of attendance for the Solidarity Sing Along, commendably notified the state police and, armed with a photo and their keen powers of observation, kept a sharp lookout for Smith.

Toward the end of the sing along, a horde of schoolchildren joined in singing “Solidarity Forever” in the rotunda (video). The video description says it was taken moments before the Capitol Police identified Smith, who was standing in the rotunda, just outside the frame of the video.

However, before that, another young man, Colin Bowden—who resembles Smith only insofar as he too is young, black, and male—was taken into custody by the Capitol Police. Bowden was handcuffed and detained without being told why.

However, state Department of Administration spokesperson Stephanie Marquis claimed that Bowden was taken into custody because he “had all the characteristics of Mr. Smith and was carrying a bag” (emphasis added).

Judge for yourself. Would you say that the young man on the left has “all the characteristics” of the young man on the right?

In a statement to friends and supporters on his Facebook page, Bowden had this to say about his experience:

I was told I am a spitting image of the person they thought called in a “serious threat.” This is something I was used to in Chicago, not Madison. … Perhaps the man in this picture looks like me. I doubt it, but I guess people who don’t know black people might mix us up. You see, when you get the wrong person because you’re looking at color before the facts, you risk losing actual perpetrators. If they had spent more time on investigating and trying to find the actual person instead of any ol’ black boy, they might’ve caught him sooner.

Indeed, while the Capitol Police were determining that Bowden was not Smith, the rotunda was full of people, many of them schoolchildren and one of them Kvon Smith, with his backpack. The Wisconsin State Journal reports: “Marquis said that Capitol Police and State Patrol officers were posted at all the Capitol entrances, and that Capitol Police officers immediately identified Smith when he entered the Capitol” (emphasis added).

Yet there’s no mention of why, if he was identified as soon as he entered the building, it wasn’t until he was all the way in the rotunda, surrounded by children and solidarity singers, that he was apprehended, or even why the building was still open when a credible bomb threat had been made.

It wasn’t until Smith’s backpack was taken outside to Wisconsin Avenue that part of the Capitol building was closed. The offices facing Wisconsin Avenue were evacuated, and the Wisconsin Avenue entrance to the Capitol was closed.

The following day, the Madison Fire Department confirmed that the liquids in Smith’s backpack were neither explosive nor flammable.

Had Smith’s backpack actually contained Molotov cocktails, had he acted quickly to ignite them in the rotunda, the misidentification of Bowden could easily have resulted in a terrible tragedy.

Nevertheless, the DOA issued a press release gloating that “Capitol Police protected hundreds of people in the state Capitol by apprehending and arresting Kvon Smith.” And the clearly self-satisfied DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch crowed: “A tragedy was avoided and our Capitol remains safe because of the actions of our officers yesterday.”

I wonder how safe Colin Bowden feels “because of the actions of our officers” on Tuesday. Or how overjoyed the parents of the children who thronged the rotunda feel about those same actions. And I’m sure Dr. King would have preferred that the Capitol Police mark the anniversary of his birth in a way that better reflected the values that he espoused.

I would venture that the Capitol Police “protected hundreds of people” Tuesday in the same way that they daily protect the citizens of Wisconsin from the nefarious noon-hour activities of the Solidarity Sing Along, especially the oh-so-hazardous banners.

Update: Colin Bowden has started a petition on demanding an end to racial profiling in the Wisconsin State Capitol. Please sign the petition and ask others to as well.

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Thanks to Judith Detert-Moriarty for her photo of Colin Bowden. The photo of Kvon Smith was obtained from the public portion of his Facebook profile. Thanks to Arthur Kohl-Riggs for the video of Kvon Smith’s arrest.

Bad News for BadgerCare Plus

Frankly, I don’t have good news regarding the state of BadgerCare Plus. In another move that shows that Republicans don’t listen to their constituents and put corporations interests over people, the Joint Finance Committee approved changes to BadgerCare yesterday that will cut an estimated 22,800 people from the program. Even though this plan is less disruptive than the original plan that would have impacted 64,800 people, it’s still bad news for many Wisconsin working families. The Wisconsin Radio Network reports that “Some 44,000 BadgerCare enrollees will see premium increases, while more than 22,000 will be dropped from the state-run Medicaid program. “ According to the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families:

“Democrats offered a motion that would have nullified the entire waiver proposal approved by the JFC in November, which DHS estimated at that time would cause more than 64,000 people to lose their BadgerCare coverage. That motion would have paved the way for the committee to take up the BadgerCare Protection Act, which restores legislative accountability for Medicaid changes and fills the program deficit by eliminating a corporate tax break passed earlier this year. This motion was rejected on a party line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans against.”

People from around the state (Appleton, Green Bay and Milwaukee) came to lobby support from legislators for the BadgerCare Protection Act before the meeting and held up signs during the JFC meeting. People in the audience for the most part kept decorum during the meeting, but all bets were off once the meeting ended. The frustration in the room was palpable during the entire hearing and came to head during the vote. Quite a few people quietly stood and held signs while the vote was taking place. Unfortunately, the Democratic sponsored bill, SB 835 did not pass. This was too much for many observers who vented their frustration by shouting “shame” at the legislators as they left the room.

The Journal Sentinel made no mention of the Democrats bill in their article. They also didn’t mention the public outcry that happened after the vote. They chose to focus on how the latest proposal would save the state less money than the original proposal:

“The number of people expected to lose or drop their coverage was about one-third the number that would have lost it under the original proposal put forward by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, which would have affected 64,800 people. The number of children losing their coverage fell even more sharply to 2,900 from the original proposal of 29,100 children.
The proposal also would save less state money – $36.5 million through June 2013 instead of $90.2 million.”
Working families have against lost another battle against corporate special interests.”

While it’s great that the changes to BadgerCare Plus won’t hurt as many people as originally proposed, it’s still harming too many.”

The article makes the changes sound very reasonable. How is it “reasonable” to deny people affordable health care coverage? How is it “reasonable” to increase health insurance premiums on families that are struggling to make ends meet? How is it “reasonable” to force families to chose between paying for health insurance premiums and putting food on the table? How are there “cost savings” for people to seek medical care only in the case of emergency? Preventative care is significantly less expensive than emergency care. Uninsured people tend to seek medical treatment only when their condition is bad enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. These people frequently can’t pay for this treatment and the cost of their treatment is passed onto others. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure. I would rather pay a small amount for prevention than a large amount in critical care. More importantly, affordable health care improves the quality of life for Wisconsin’s working families. Remember, the “working poor” aren’t just a statistic or some mystic “other” that aren’t part of society, they are our friends, family and neighbors.

Update: Cline Corporation gets the message, quits plan for Wisconsin mine.

Update:  From the facebook wall of Rep. Terese Berceau:   ” Senate rejection of the mining reforms in Assembly Bill 426 sends a clear message that Wisconsin will not welcome iron mining. We get the message. GTac is ending plans to invest in a Wisconsin mine. We thank the many people who have supported our efforts.” –  Letter just distributed on floor from Gogebic Taconite, President Bill Williams, evening of 03/06/12


Though I’m squarely against the mine, I made a decision to just document a pro-mine rally today and not counter-protest. When I walked up to the Capitol building, my friend Bruce was the lone anti-mine sign holder. I was glad for his vigilance.

About 300 members of 5 unions assembled. The crowd was primarily men with a few women also interspersed. I met men from Green Bay, Milwaukee, Wausau, and Crandon. The private labor unions pledging their support are the International Union of Operating Engineers  Local 139, the Iron Workers District Council of the North Central States,   Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, and  Wisconsin Laborer’s District Council. *

I talked with Chris Schoenbeck, President of the Wisconsin Pipefitters Association.  I tried to get more info on the letter of understanding that five private construction unions worked out with mining company, the Cline Corporation. Schoenbeck replied with the same information I got out of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: there’s a  promise that 95% of the people employed to work on the mine would be from Wisconsin and that they would come from the unions.

I spoke with Steve who lives in Wind Lake [near Milwaukee].  of Operating Engineers Local 139. Steve said his union has 6,900 active members and that his men would be the first people to work on the proposed mine site. He said that engineers would usually be doing road construction and any building work on campus.

I wondered if these folks supported public unions in Wisconsin last year but are now breaking with them.

Doing a bit of checking, I learned that Steve’s union has supported Walker from day one, though his union’s business manager was taken to task for it. Terry McGowan, the business manager for Local 139, wrote a letter to union members in December of 2011 to members to explain that Scott Walker was and is backed by his union because “Tom Barrett made his position clear that he was a mass-transit guy. He told me three times that he saw no reason for any additional highways. in Wisconsin if we can steer the public to utilize mass transit….  Scott Walker on the other hand
believes that we need extra lanes on most of our Interstate system. Not only that, he supports High-Occupancy
Tolls, or HOT lanes in congested areas for additional revenue. He is making a solid commitment to make it impossible if not illegal to transfer money out of the transportation fund and will seek to utilize taxes paid on all car parts and most automo-
bile-related sales toward the highway program. He also told me that the day he is sworn in, the public sector is out of the road-building business.” Read more HERE if you like.

I also spoke with a member of LiUNA. (These are the men you’ll see wearing orange in many of my photos). I asked him if it wasn’t a conflict for his union to side with the mine when many unions were siding against the Walker administration and recalling Scott Walker. He replied that “when it comes to politics we encourage people to go to make decisions that are work-oriented. To make the best decision for laborers.”

I asked him what LiUNA members do usually on a site and he replied demolition, clean-up, hauling debris, bricklaying – “all across the board”.

We talked for a while about the economy and its role in union membership. He said when the economy drops their membership does drop. He added that if the Keystone XL pipeline goes ahead that will yield a lot of labor for his union.

I said nothing about how I feel about the Keystone XL to him but in my mind I flashed to a moment that morning when I had urged Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” to do a story on 5 Lakota Indians who had been arrested for creating a blockade against equipment on its way to be used on the tar sands of Alberta, Canada.

After I shared some of the photos from today on facebook, a friend asked if LiUNA wasn’t in the streets with us a year ago.

Indeed they were. From February 25, 2011, “In Wisconsin where it all started, thousands of LIUNA members have joined tens of thousands of protesters occupying the Capitol building in Madison to prevent lawmakers from stripping workers of collective bargaining rights. And today, state police announced they will join the protestors to defend workers’ rights.”

I am disturbed because I assume that LiUNA and the other unions assembled today will not bite the hand that feeds them  – I’m assuming they will not both accept mine jobs and turn on their provider, Scott Walker.

But hold it. WHAT mine jobs? Isn’t the streamlined mine bill Cline Corporation wants too dirty – so dirty that my scientifically pedigreed friends insist the EPA will stop it? Aren’t the tribes vowing to halt it?

In the process of getting from here to there we must deal with a charade – an assumption that Scott Walker and the mine provide jobs. Once again the corporation brings laborers to their knees. In the process the GOP gets a delicious bonus: men from LiUNA come into the Capitol not as allies to public unions and to Dems, but instead as their adversaries.

As I walked into the building I saw a man who was wearing a blue fist AFL-CIO button. I asked what the insignia was on his jacket and he replied “plumbers”. He was one of the rare men wearing any button at all. That blue fist button is usually marching with the anti-Walker crowd.

There was tension enough in the rotunda to make at least one friend leave the space but the only conflict that came of it was a chant from the visitors that overpowered the singers for maybe 3 minutes: “We want jobs”.

The chanting settled down and the Solidarity Sing Along picked up with , “We are a gentle angry people”.

Some of the assembled pro-mine visitors wandered off to lobby legislators and some stayed. At the very end a singer with a booming voice broke into the brief chant of “Jobs AND Environment!” and many of the other singers joined in.

This well of sound and beauty, the rotunda, is where chants of “Recall Walker!” and “General strike!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” were sounded one year ago. It’s not exactly a think tank, but maybe it’s a yell tank. Now it’s generated competing chants – new divisions.

The state senate was scheduled to take up the bill at noon today, then 1:30PM and then I realized it was 5PM and I was in a vehicle on the way home and the bill was being pushed off again. “All the better to be seen by people after work” I thought. And that’s how it worked out.   Ulimately the legislation that came out of the JFC was voted down and the compromise that Jauch and Schultz labored over was not even taken up (though they did speak eloquently to defend it ). The senate voted unanimously to send the Assembly bill to the Org. committee. That’s where the bill might die.

Today a statement came out from Geogobic Taconite that said it would reject any bill that improved on the original one written to the mine’s specifications, nevermind your wishes for democracy.

See more photos at my facebook page.

*A friend has reminded me that a regional union that has signed on may or may not have the approval of all of the locals within it especially when the agreement was arrived at within a tight time frame.

This was initially titled “Solidarity weakens and the Wisconsin mine goes to committee again. ” The Cline company shared their letter on quitting Wisconsin not long after I wrote this post.

A year ago in Wisconsin, I was awakened… by Wisco Wherls

This is a post by Wisco Wherls which was first published on Daily Kos.  I’m thrilled to have his permission to reprint it here.


How often does an individual have the opportunity to pinpoint the exact moment at which their life was irrevocably changed?  For myself, that moment came exactly one year ago today.  The emotions and memories are so vivid, I merely have to think of that day and I am immediately transported back inside the Madison Capitol.  I was appalled from the moment I learned that Scott Walker was prepared to activate the National Guard, in response to the protests that would surely ensue after he “dropped the bomb” known as the Budget Despair Bill on Wisconsin’s public sector unions.  “How could a state’s governor wield his state’s volunteer Guardsmen and women as his own personal palace guard against his constituents?,” I thought to myself.  (Little did I suspect that utilizing whatever police force was available at the time to quell dissent, would become a staple of life in Fitzwalkerstan.)  At the time, I knew very little about the bill, but it quickly became apparent to me that it was an across-the-board assault on Wisconsin’s progressive values and not only did Scotty know it, but more importantly…he didn’t give a shit.

Having been glued to my television for nearly three weeks prior, as the Arab Spring was unfolding in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, I was inspired by their bravery in the face of bloody government crackdowns and their steadfast determination through peaceful resistance.  So when large-scale protests began in earnest, in virtually my back yard, only days after Egyptians had overthrown their totalitarian government led by Hosni Mubarek, my interest level went off the charts. On that Monday and Tuesday, I eagerly rushed home from work, hopped online and tuned into CNN to follow the latest goings-on from that day’s protests.  With each passing hour, it seemed, the crowds were growing and the movement was picking up steam.  I found myself transfixed by the videos that were beginning to spring up on Youtube with footage of chants, drum circles and incredible passion from inside and outside of the Capitol.  By Tuesday evening on February 15th, I had made the determination that I was done playing the role of casual observer and was ready to head on down to Madison’s own Square to experience the protests first-hand.  I called my boss (and Dad) to ask if I could take the day off and make my way to the Capitol on Wednesday.  Fortunately, having been raised in a liberal family, I already knew his answer and went to bed giddy with anticipation for what the following day would bring.  Needless to say, I was pissed off beyond belief to awaken the next morning with a splitting sinus headache, barely able to lift my gangly frame out of bed.  The protests would have to wait.  I spent virtually the entire day laying around and following the latest developments on Wiseye, the Wisconsin state government’s version of C-Span, but as the day dragged on, I felt the pall hanging over my body beginning to lift.  This was the respite I needed and I determined I was going to the protests on the 17th.

From the instant I entered the Capitol around 1 p.m. with my friend, Shafia Powell, I knew my life would never be the same.  The tidal wave of adrenaline that immediately overtook my body was simply incredible.  It wasn’t so much that I could hear the energy of the crowd or see the intensity on their faces, but rather, that I could literally feel the electricity in the building coursing through me.  Just thinking about it now still sends shivers down my spine.  I was soon enveloped by the near deafening sounds cascading down from the upper reaches of the beautiful Capitol dome, off the marble floors and echoing throughout the packed hallways. Years earlier, I had sung with my high school choir inside of the rotunda, so I was familiar with the phenomenal acoustics inside…but I never could’ve imagined something as powerful as what we were hearing.  As we meandered our way towards the ground floor of the Rotunda, I was swept up in my very first chant of “RE-CALL WAL-KER!!…RE-CALL WAL-KER!!”  It felt odd, at first, to be yelling this repeatedly but having been an avid lifelong sports fan, I soon felt at ease going to work on destroying my already weakened vocal chords.

Despite my new comfort level, I simultaneously felt like a newborn, walking into a strange, and foreign world that so many inside of the Capitol had already grown accustomed to during the previous three and a half days, The sheer number of homemade signs, pictures and fliers adorning the walls was astonishing.  Virtually every spot on any wall, pillar or statue inside of the Cap was covered with a plea, a testimonial, a defiant call for Recall or an optimistic appeal to what little (if any) compassion Walker and Wisconsin’s Republican legislators had for the people of our great state.  As we finally waded through the crowd in order to reach the ground floor of the Rotunda.  I was literally taken aback by what I saw in front of me.  Everywhere I looked, every nook, cranny and balcony was full of Badger red…and every single person was chanting, clapping and dancing as if I’d just walked into a religious revival.  The musicians’ circle was an eclectic mix of drums, tambourines, vuvuzelas and saxophone-led horn section (perhaps even a little cowbell?), yet their sounds and rhythms melded together as if they’d been doing this their entire lives.  This was not what grade schoolers typically witnessed in their run-of-the-mill Capitol tour, to say the least.  But then again, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill legislation.

The sight of yellow banners hanging from the first and second floor balconies, indicating the support from various individuals and groups from all over the United States that had traveled to protest in Solidarity with Wisconsinites, was a heartening one.  Luckily, I was able to experience the unveiling of one shortly after I arrived.  Applause started gradually building from an unseen part of the Rotunda…as people realized another banner was coming out, everyone started cheering, louder and louder, until the banner had been totally unfurled, proudly stating that “DETROIT IS HERE WITH YOU.” The entire place roared with approval and it felt as if we might blow the dome off of the Capitol with the sound  from within.  This scene would repeat itself at various times throughout the day and the response each state and city received was as powerful as the one before it.  Not long after, one of our State Assembly Representatives came out to thank the crowd and express their support.  It was at that moment that I first learned (although many present had already heard) of the heroic journey our state’s 14 Democratic Senators had taken in the middle of the night to be with the flatlanders to the South, in order to prevent the necessary quorum and keep the bill from being rubber stamped over to Walker’s desk.  Wisconsin was in this for the long haul.

I had always been active as far as voting and following national politics.  But prior to a year ago today, I didn’t know Scott Fitzgerald from the Edmund Fitzgerald (and now Scott’s career appears to be sinking almost as quickly!)  For me, democracy had always been about voting and encouraging others to vote.  But outside of the gubernatorial races, I just didn’t give a shit about state politics or actually getting involved.  A year ago today, I truly learned what democracy looked like.  I would no longer merely talk about protecting the rights of myself and others, but rather, stand up for them.  I would no longer merely praise democracy, but rather, physically and socially ENGAGE in active democracy.  I would never again allow myself to settle into an apathetic mindset towards the activities of our elected officials. I had seen the reality of the far right-wing extremism that had been unleashed upon my beloved state by the likes of ALEC and the Koch Brother Barons, under the guise of Scott Walker and a “balanced budget.”  I had stood with those who were so deeply affected by it’s devastating consequences.  The camaraderie and positive vibes I had experienced that day were intoxicating…and I knew that I just had to keep going back and stay involved, for as long as it possibly took.

For me, the atmosphere was encapsulated by the title of what became one of the Solidarity Sing Along’s regular repertoire, “We Are a Gentle Angry People.”  No matter how livid the crowds were (and rightfully so,) they remained non-violent throughout and avoided the pratfalls of mob mentality that so often overcome large, essentially anonymous groups.  The amount of love, passion and creativity I saw poured into virtually every sign, chant and testimonial was incredible.  I was especially inspired by the power of the “People’s Mic,” a megaphone stationed in the center of the Rotunda, where otherwise ordinary individuals of all ages and backgrounds stepped up and bared their souls in front of thousands of strangers, with extraordinary courage they may not have ever known they had inside of them.

This movement and that day in particular, helped me realize that I, too, possessed the courage to make a difference, to let my voice be heard.  A year ago, I had never even heard of the Daily Kos, let alone ever imagined I would start posting on a national liberal blog.  I would not have comprehended spending my free time searching for conversations to stay abreast of the latest developments in Wisconsin’s political and socioeconomic struggle or sharing links and posting Facebook status updates to help others see the reality of what is being done to my state.  Whatever potential I had squandered or failed to utilize up until then no longer mattered to me.  I had discovered a new clarity of purpose and I didn’t know where it would take me, but I am happy where it’s gotten me, thus far.

As dusk settled over that evening’s rally on the steps of Our House, State Assemblyman, and fellow Sun Prairie native Gary Hebl, suggested that Walker and his legislative lap dogs had “awoken a sleeping dog.”  They had assumed the people of Wisconsin would simply roll over and take their attacks on democracy lying down….they were extremely misguided in that assumption.  Well, my eyes are wide open and neither I, nor the people of this state, will be going back to sleep anytime soon.  As I wrote on Facebook, “little did I think that I would walk into our state house on February 17th a curious and concerned supporter of workers’ rights and immediately be transformed into a determined activist.” The sensations I feel when I think back to the protests of last February and March are so strong and so visceral, that simply writing this was a constant battle with my emotions.  My story is not unique from the hundreds of thousands of other stories people have from our shared experiences in those early days, but I knew this anniversary of my entry into the Uprising meant too much personally NOT to write about it.  The entire movement has been about many different individuals coming together with a unity of purpose, overcoming fears and taking on seemingly insurmountable challenges we otherwise may not have had the willpower or intestinal fortitude to take on by ourselves.  Just knowing you have millions behind you…now THAT is true Solidarity.  On Tuesday, I was back inside Our House commemorating the one year anniversary of the I Love the UW Valentine’s Day protest march that kicked everything into high gear, when the powerful chant of “WE’RE STILL HERE!!” broke out in full force.  You’re goddamned right we are.  One year longer, one year stronger, Wisconsin…FORWARD!!!


This is a post by Wisco Wherls which was first published FRI FEB 17, 2012 on Daily Kos. 

“One Year Longer, One Year Stronger” Reflections on the Protests in Wisconsin

As many of you are aware it’s been just over one year since soon to be former Governor Walker announced his “budget repair bill”. Part of this budget repair bill took away collective bargaining rights from public workers. The thing that made my blood boil was the “budget repair bill” was “needed” because of all the tax cuts Walker gave to companies during his first month as governor. This told me that the current administration valued tax cuts to corporations more than workers’ rights. A strong middle class is built because workers have some say in their work place. Taking away any workers’ rights is NOT the “Wisconsin way”.

So much has happened since that fateful day in February it’s tough to even know where to start. There have been so many highs and just as many lows. It’s difficult to keep up on everything happening in Wisconsin politics. I’ve seen mass protests form almost overnight. In fact one of the very first protests against Walker was at the Post Crescent office here in Appleton. I’ve seen a large number of people become politically active for the first time in their lives. I’ve seen an unprecedented number of recall elections.

Before this I never really paid attention to state politics because in the back of my mind I always thought Wisconsin was different and that somehow our politicians were more reasonable than in other states. In my mind, all Wisconsin politicians strove to do the “right thing” for the state and were willing to listen to everyone, even dissenters. Boy, was I wrong and more than a little naive.

In the last year I’ve seen politicians who avoid town hall meetings with their constituents. Some of our elected legislators prefer either a pay for event like a breakfast or telephone conference call. I’ve heard politicians say they’re not interested in listening to people testifying at “listening sessions”. I don’t know about you, but I always believed “we the people” hired these officials by electing them. It’s part of their job description to listen to everyone, not just the people that voted for them. We shouldn’t have to pay to speak with them nor agree completely with them in order to be heard.

Most importantly, I’ve seen a state-wide community of progressives form. Since this started I have found so many unsung Wisconsin heroes, it’s impossible to name them all. There are the people who braved blizzards and froze while protesting at the capital last winter, the people who canvassed neighborhoods during the heat of the summer and who can forget the tens of thousands of people who gathered recall signatures this winter. It may have started because of collective bargaining rights, but it’s branched out to become something much bigger than that. This has turned into a movement that has gained the attention and support of people from all over the country. Many progressives from other states are pinning their hopes and dreams on the successes we have here. They believe their states have a chance to improve if we succeed here in Wisconsin. We can and will make things better. At the beginning people would say “one day longer, one day stronger”, now we can all say “one year longer, one year stronger”. Let’s keep this amazing progressive momentum going FORWARD!!!!!!!!!!!

Video: Wisconsin One Year Stronger, Anniversary Week of Action

This is an excellent video by Arthur over at the facebook page SSWIDTMS. It reminds you why this Anniversary Week of Action is so important – in case you weren’t already convinced.

See the whole list of events on facebook here.

Text below is from Wisconsin Wave:

Why an Anniversary Week of Action?
To remember and honor the unprecedented protests of February and March of 2011, when the people of Wisconsin rediscovered the power of collective action.

To reconvene the empowered community that launched the Capitol Occupation and organized state-wide protests, and to reinvigorate the spirit of cooperation and solidarity that fueled them.

To identify ways we can expose the political and economic interests that exploit our democratic process out of greed, and set a course to defeat them.

To create a space where our movement can articulate a long term vision for structural change centered around social, economic, racial, and environmental justice for all people.

To sustain Wisconsin’s 150+ year tradition as a laboratory of democracy by developing new forms of direct democratic decision making.
What is being planned?

Beginning Saturday, February 11th people from across Wisconsin will converge in Madison for a Week of Action to commemorate the one-year anniversary of last year’s Wisconsin Uprising and the sustained occupation of the Capitol building. The Week of Action will include two rallies, a march from UW-Madison to the capitol building, and a Documentation Station inside the Capitol to help preserve the collective memory of those historic events. Other actions may be included as well.

The Week of Action will culminate on Sunday, February 19th, 2012 with a participatory planning session that will set the stage for a statewide people’s assembly, the WisConvocation, to take place in the weeks to come. Participants in the the WisConvocation will deliberate on issues of public concern and formulate proposals for action such as a People’s Budget, a People’s Platform, and a list of movement demands for candidates participating in the 2012 recall elections.

Schedule of Events so far:
(please visit the Week of Action facebook page for a complete list)

Pre Event:
Thursday, February 9th; 7-9pm
“The Wisconsin Uprising One Year On: What Happened and What Next?”

Saturday, February 11th; 10:30am-1pm
“Bury the Mining Bill Feeder March” at 10:30am
“Wisconsin Day! Rally to Kick-off a Week of Action at 12pm”

Sunday, February 12th; 11:00am-1pm
Picket the Governor’s Mansion!

Tuesday, February 14th; 8am-5:15pm
“ICWJ Faith-Labor Breakfest” at 8am
“I Still ♥ UW March and Rally” at 12:15pm
“Show the Love, Save Our Schools! Rally” at 4:15pm

Tuesday, February 14th, Wednesday February 15th; 10-6pm both days
“Capitol Occupation Documentation Station”

Thursday, February 16th; 7-9pm
“One Year Later – Lessons from the Wisconsin Uprising”

Sunday, February 19th; 2-5pm
“WisConvocation Public Planning Session”

Who We Are

The Week of Action is being planned by a broad coalition of organizations and individuals including the Wisconsin Wave! Other endorsers include:

United Wisconsin, Wisconsin AFL-CIO, AFT-Wisconsin, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Family Farm Defenders, Voces de la Frontera, SEIU Healthcare WI, Teaching Assistants Association (TAA) Executive Board (UW-Madison), Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, 9to5 Milwaukee, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, National Lawyers Guild, Wisconsin Bail Out the People, Autonomous Solidarity Organization, Occupy Wisconsin, Occupy Riverwest, Liberty Tree Foundation, Socialist Alternative, International Socialist Organization.

If you or your group would like to endorse, get involved, or add an event to the schedule please contact Harriet Rowan at

Liveblogging: Wisconsin Rise Up

This will be a live blog spot
*on the issues of mining and wetlands in Wisconsin,

*on protests, a People’s State of the State and a People’s Tribunal at Wisconsin’s Capitol building,

*on Walker’s State of the State Address
all day Wednesday Jan. 25 through Thurs. January 26.

Please see the schedule top left of this blog for more details and links on each event.

IndianCountryTV on livestream will be broadcasting many events live today. Check them out:

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

There’s a wee bit of extra activist energy going on at the Capitol Wed. Jan 25 and 26th. I’ll be tossing some tweeted comments out about that throughout the day and they will land here in a “Cover It Live” widget.

I encourage you to call this slap-dash approach “live blogging”! That sounds much more professional than “a few collected tweets and photos”.

Some twitter friends said they’d call our midweek protests “Wisconsin Rise Up” or #WIriseup on twitter. You also might see the hashtag #wismine, #nomine, or #Penokees more often this week as people discuss and protest the mining bill in Madison.

Take a look at the calendar top left of my blog for the full details and/or try this post:
Walker’s State of the State Speech to be countered by a People’s Tribunal and Mine Protest

Indiana “Right-to-Work” Legislation Take Two

Indiana Republicans have put so called “right-to-work” legislation on a “fast track” in the hopes of having it passed into law before the Super Bowl on February 5th of this year. Republicans want to avoid negative the media attention of mass protests going on at the capital. If they want to avoid the potential for bad media attention, wouldn’t it make more sense to introduce it say February 6th? Indiana citizens should be given more time to become educated on the bill and what it means to their communities. There should be thoughtful discussion and many public hearings around the state on this matter. This will impact the lives of everyone in Indiana. In my opinion it’s too important to “fast track”.

There is a joint committee hearing schedule on “right-to-work” legislation today, January 6th 2012 starting at 8 am local time. It’s interesting that the house legislation technically doesn’t exist as of yet because it hasn’t been introduced in the house. So, they are going to take testimony on a bill that hasn’t been introduced yet? Isn’t that similar to putting the cart before the horse?

“House Democrats boycotted session for a second consecutive day Thursday, which prevented House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis — a top right-to-work proponent — from introducing House Bill 1001 and assigning it to committee.”

There is an identical bill in the state senate, Senate Bill 269 that will be eligible for a vote next week if it’s passed in committee today.

From the same article:

“Joint committees are rarely used at the Statehouse because the Indiana Constitution expects the House and Senate to give separate consideration to pending legislation.”

Last February Republicans tried to pass the same sort of legislation. House Democrats fled the state to stop passage. They stayed out for a record 36 days and incurred a total of more than $100,000 in fines. House Republicans wanted to make sure this didn’t happen again so they crafted a law that increased fines for walking out during a legislative session to $1,000 a day. That’s on top of other other fines. I guess Republicans are using the mantra “If you don’t succeed, try, try again” because here it is a new year and they are trying to do it again. They certainly are a persistent group, aren’t they?

James P. Hoffa did a great write up on the issue at the Huffington Post. It’s well worth the read if you get a chance. The part that really caught my eye is the following. This list will seem eerily familiar to anyone following state politics around the country. In my humble opinion it almost seems like many state Republicans are following the exact same political “play book”.

“These politicians have no shame.
They have: cribbed the bill’s language from pre-written legislation influenced by out-of-state corporations like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and Duke Energy; run television commercials paid for by secret donors; tried to severely restrict public – but not lobbyist – access to the Statehouse;
put out dishonest “studies” underwritten by such anti-worker groups as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the National Right to Work Committee, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and a corporate advocacy group from Oklahoma; claimed companies refused to move to Indiana because it wasn’t a right-to-work state. When pressed, they couldn’t name a single company that decided not to relocate to Indiana because of that.”

A hat tip goes to brave house Republicans three who have publicly stated they won’t support “right-to-work” legislation. There are a few others that say they haven’t made a final decision on the bill. I’m hoping that more House Republicans will decide to do what’s best for the people of Indiana and vote against it.

“Not all Republicans have fallen in line. At least three GOP House members from union-heavy districts have said publicly they won’t support the legislation that Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels has said is one of his top priorities. They include Rep. Tom Dermody from LaPorte, Rep. Ed Soliday of Valparaiso, and Rep. Ron Bacon of Boonville.”

Indiana House Democrats deserve a lot of respect for standing up for the people in their state. This legislation is too important to rush and should concern everyone in the country, not just those people residing in Indiana. It could come to your state next if it doesn’t get stopped here. There needs to be more public hearings on the matter. The public need to be educated on what this bill really means to them and their communities.

Please consider donating to the Indiana House Democrats if you can. They are facing huge personal financial burdens for doing what is right. They have set up a donation page at ActBlue. It can be found here. I had to chuckle at the donation amount section of the page. For a quick giggle, take a peak at the comment next to the $500 donation. During the height of the protests in Wisconsin, people from around the world were donating Ian’s pizzas to the protesters. The pizza donations warmed the hearts and stomachs of the protesters occupying the capital in Madison. Let’s all show similar solidarity with the legislators in Indiana.

2011: the year Wisconsin fought back. SSWIDTMS’s most viewed videos of the year

Arthur of the facebook page Shit Scott Walker is Doing to My State is a combination organizer, videographer, and facebook blogger who has traveled across the state and across the country this year to protest. If you’ve watched more than 1 Wisconsin protest video this year, chances are you’ve watched 1 of Arthur’s pieces.

I was all set to just copy and paste his list of 2011 videos [which you’ll see below] but I started watching his videos again, and then I had to write something.

Certain moments in his videos are seared in joyous memory — like when people break out into the ‘Hey hey hey–goood bye’ chant in Beloit or the moment when I’m feeling the full force of protester rage contrasting with the delicate beauty of Devils Lake State Park.

Some things I remember are very personal. You’ll see below a video of Peter Yarrow in Zucotti Park. That day I watched Peter sing on a livestream while I got Arthur’s updates on facebook letting me know he was at Peter’s side. It was a moment of simple happiness and connection from Wisconsin to Occupy Wall Street in Zucotti Park. I sang along at home in Madison and tweeted about the moment, bouncing the signal and amplifying everything Peter said in my rudimentary way. All the stress of our politics was gone and I could feel the accomplishment of what we’ve learned how to do.

When I watch Arthur’s flotilla videos I remember how that came together by the power of Arthur’s enthusiasm and facebook alone on a weekend when hardly anybody was staying in town. There was even a moment when I was canoeing half-way across Lake Mendota against a hard wind that I wondered what the hell we were doing and wanted to turn back. Ultimately we had a fantastic time hurling our voices at the khaki-pants Republicans on the mansion lawn. Later when the Atlantic web site and Rachel Maddow and a slew of blogs picked up the flotilla video, it sunk in for me — a small group doing something goofy and gutsy could deliver a big pay-off in the media.

I’ve also treasured the zinger moments in his videos when he’s conversing with the villain in question up close. Such as the “Protesting Walker in Beloit” video when Arthur says “Are you drunk sir?” to the passing GOP legislator. And the brief video of Randy Hopper [another big drinker] in which Hopper rushes at Arthur and says “I’m going to ruin you for every F-ing thing you’ve done” is just the stuff a recall campaign needs. It’s not something you can plan for–you just have to be around a lot to grab those moments with your camera, and Arthur has been so often around and at the ready especially at the Capitol.

On the Capitol building: Arthur is 1 of the chief people pressing for greater freedom to record with a camera or tweet with a phone there. One day [I hope] I will be able to tweet 140 characters from Assembly chambers without being cited by a cop. Arthur is one of the people I – we – will need to thank for that.

SSWIDTMS started in May as a way to stop spamming all my friends facebook walls with so much political stuff they didn’t want to hear about,I figured I would let people opt in so to speak. I found a good way to show what was going on at the capitol and in these meetings was with video, well, 9 months later with over 100 videos uploaded and almost half of them having more than 2,000 views each it is safe to say that video has played a central role in the SSWIDTMS operation. Sometime in the last month we passed the 500,000 view count milestone, which is also pretty awesome! Now lets take a look back at some of the most viewed SSWIDTMS videos of the year.

Unfortunately the most viewed SSW video is not about WI with over 100,000 views on youtube and picked up by many national new outlet the most viewed SSWIDTMS video is-

#OWS Protesters March On The Brooklyn Bridge 700+ Arrested 10-1-11

Backup link to video

At the end of September Myself and a few other Wisconsin activists went to NYC to participate in the early stages of the Occupy Movement. I went to try to draw on the seemingly obvious parallels between our uprising in Wisconsin and the Occupy Movement and got the opportunity to talk with some really great people about the connection between the two.

Here are a few videos that were the result of some of those talks.

Angel Giboyeaux VP of TWU Local 100 on Wisconsin and #OccupyWallStreet

Backup link to video

Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary Has A Message to Wisconsin at #OccupyWallStreet

Backup link to video

#OccupyWallSt – Dr. Cornel West On How Awesome Wisconsin Is

Backup link to video

Next is

Sign of the Times – Arrests in the WI Assembly Gallery; 10 Cops, Really?

Backup link to video

Sign of the Times got a big boost in exposure due to the Daily Kos community picking up on what had been going on because of an excellent post by Daily Kos member Giles the Goat Boy.

Giles the Goat Boy continued to post updates to the Daily Kos about the assault of our first amendment rights in the Assembly gallery and also helped organize Concealed Camera Day

November 1st, Concealed Camera Day – 18 Arrested in Wisconsin Assembly

Backup link to video

Up next is

Protesting Walker in Beloit 7-18-11

Backup link to video

This is definitely one of my favorite videos. For me this experience really solidified for me how committed people were. This was very much outside of Madison and the energy was clearly building.

The next video was the video that started it all, for me at least with filming what was going on at the Capitol and putting it on youtube was

Mom cited when her two children hold a sign in the Wisconsin capitol

Backup link to video

A lot is owed to the Sargent Boys and Jeremy Ryan and others who took the stand back in March to protect our rights to have signs in the Capitol. I know for a lot of people this event got them back to the Capitol protesting Walker again after the Budget Bill protest.

Scott Walker’s Ad to Recall Himself

Backup link to video

The materiel for this video was just to good. There had been other videos made using the audio from the Walker ad but it was just too good to pass up. I think there still is a lot of stuff that this Walker ad could and probably will be used for. It is going to keep on giving.

Taking up the rear with just over 10,000 views is

A Day At Devil’s Lake With Scott Walker 6-25-11

Backup link to video

This was one of the first videos where I multiple video clips together to tell a story of a larger event. This also was the first large flotilla which was awesome and inspired me to organize several others.

Boats For Justice, Flotilla at Governor Walker’s (Our) Mansion 7-2-11

Backup link to video


Fancy Time Boat Protest

Backup link to video

And for dozens of other SSWIDTMS classics like,

Randy Hopper “I’m going to ruin you for every F-ing thing you’ve done”

Backup link to video


Grigsby – Drug Test The CEO’s Getting The Tax Credits

Backup link to video


Protesting After The Walworth Co GOP Steamboat Fundraising Cruise 7-17-11

Backup link to video


Lupe Fiasco – The End Of The World (Unofficial #OWS Anthem)

Lupe Fiasco – The End Of The World (Unofficial #OWS Anthem) from SSWIDTMS on Vimeo.

take some time and check out the archives here.

Thank you all for the amazing community that has sprung up so beautifully in response to this unfortunate situation we have found ourselves in.

Recall Walker!

Arthur of SSWIDTMS

Rights and Recall Carols in the Rotunda

This happened today and it was glorious: 700-1,000 people assembled with minimal police presence and no arrests today in Wisconsin’s Capitol building to sing political carols.

I present Scout’s lovely video which has the lyrics so you can sing along at home:

Just a reminder that the Solidarity Sing Along has been sponsored by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice for what will very soon be 250 singing events. Go to their site to find the full holiday songbook and donate if you’d like to foster the growth of this unique form of camaraderie and protest.

It is always a pleasure to convene on either the Capitol building rotunda or the area near the Lady Forward statue off of State Street to sing every weekday from 12 Noon to 1PM.

But THE must-see-and-hear-it-to-believe-it Wisconsin holiday party of 2011 will be the 250th sing at the High Noon Saloon on 701 East Washington in Madison, Thursday December 29 at 7PM.

The place will be full of regular and brand new singers as well as the Learning Curve Sing Along band AND local favorites, the VO5 band and Yid Vicious.

More photos are on my facebook page.

You have the right to remain funny in Fitzwalkerstan

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

I actually do not find losing my rights this laughable. But for my own health, I’m trying.

Last night Stephen Colbert joked that “Governor Scott Walker implements a bold new policy requiring protesters to pay for the right to protest”.

It had me thinking we’ll be laughing all the way to the gulag if we keep going at this rate. [Feel free to tell me we are A) Not going to the gulag and B) Not going to keep losing our rights at this rate. Seriously. I like to be reassured.]

Whether we need them or not, here are a couple jokes about repressive reality culled from the net:

“How do you catch a lion? Easy: you catch a rabbit and beat it till it confesses to being a lion.”

Stalin decides to go out one day and see what it’s really like for the workers, so he puts on a disguise and sneaks out of the Kremlin. After a while he wanders into a cinema. When the film has finished, the Soviet Anthem plays and a huge picture of Stalin appears on the screen. Everyone stands up and begins singing, except Stalin, who smugly remains seated. A minute later a man behind him leans forwards and whispers in his ear: “Listen Comrade, we all feel exactly the same way you do, but trust me, it’s a lot safer if you just stand up.”

For more on Walker’s pay-to-protest policy, see Nobody Buys DOA Disinformation at Wisconsin Capitol

The first big implementation of the policy is expected Monday Dec. 19.

Nobody Buys DOA Disinformation at Wisconsin Capitol

About 30-50 people gathered in the Capitol building’s basement this morning to question Chief Tubbs and a Department of Administration rep. on a new policy that will — among other things — force protesters at Wisconsin’s Capitol building to pay for additional law enforcement and treat groups of 4 or more people as “rallies”. DOA’s Deputy Secretary Chris Schoenherr asserted repeatedly he is not an attorney and could not answer legal questions about policy. Answers from Tubbs and Schoenherr were usually variations on the following:
1- “I’m not going to respond to a hypothetical situation.”
2- “The policy is based on Chapter 2 in the administrative code. Our legal team believes it is defendable.”

Brian S. asked about the “hypothetical” on everybody’s mind:
“”Let’s say that whenever the implementation date is, that there are 150 singers in the rotunda, are you prepared to make 150 arrests if those people do not voluntarily comply?”
Tubbs: I’m not going to respond to a hypothetical
Brian S.: It is not a hypothetical.
Tubbs: We will evaluate that situation. I am not going to give up the ability we have as a law enforcement agency to professionally deal with a situation that could be questionable.” The Solidarity Sing Along group has been singing at noon every weekday at the Capitol since March 11. Song leader Chris Reeder has made it clear the group is not going to get a permit to “exercise our free speech rights”.

One of the “hypotheticals” posed by Katy R. was: “If I want to bring 3 members of my family to see the holiday tree – if we have the same sentiment that we want to express at the same time – is that going to turn this into a rally?”

Schoenherr replied, “It is a practical matter. That’s something we’ll have to work out on an individual basis… If you want to just have your family here and say ‘God bless America’ that would be OK.

I think Schoenherr has no clue how disturbing that comment sounded.

Greg P. used Schoenherr’s comment to frame the perilous state that DOA’s policy puts free speech in:
“.. it would be so easy for these procedures to be selectively enforced. You said before if people want to come to the Christmas tree lighting and say “God bless America” that would be OK. But that’s a problem. What if people want to come to the Christmas tree lighting and say “God damn America”. – – those are equivalent things and if you enforce this on people that say “God damn America” and not “God bless America”, that is a serious problem”.

Assembly Representative Chris Taylor said that the DOA’s restricted Capitol policy is at the top of her constituents’ minds. She said, “ really seems to be we are imposing a fee on people’s exercise of their constitutional rights if we’re going to say you have to pay to participate in a large gathering. Then we’re saying in order to express yourself politically, you’re going to have to pay to do that and I don’t know how you all are going to get around some really settled constitutional provisions.”

The response to Rep. Taylor: Answer #2.

Ed K. expressed outright anger for charging for protest: “This is a user fee. We get a policy that’s raising taxes on specific people making use of this building. That’s objectionable. It’s against all of the history of this state…” He added that the public should see what account the money would go to and what would be done with it.”

Ed K. requested both a copy of the previous policy on protests and a base line of regular staffing – such as what might be learned by studying a year’s worth of Capitol officer time sheets. His 2nd request was rebuffed by Tubbs who said that he could not give that information out for security reasons.

Tim R. asked a key question on timing:
“I don’t believe that the question of ‘Why now?’ has been answered adequately at all. You would forgive us all for concluding that this governor will not countenance any dissent. He will not countenance free speech. I recall him saying some months ago ‘Oh the solidarity singers. Those are 20 teachers. Who cares.’ Well it is more than 20 teachers. There’s a lot of people there. It seems to me it is rubbing him the wrong way and THAT is why we are getting this policy and I would like an answer to that.”

DOA disinformation capitol education

The official answer to this “Why now?” question was given already, but it was just so weak, nobody accepted it. Schoenherr said DOA changed the policy now because (1) DOA didn’t believe it had 1 document to answer the public’s questions on permits and (2) There is a precedent set with the status of a lawsuit filed by Ben Masel.

Leslie A. brought files on 3 lawsuits to the meeting. They originated with the late Ben Masel and established that Wisconsinites do not need a permit for assembly in the Capitol or on the Capitol grounds and do not need a permit for an amplification device. She said ” … Are you suggesting that you’re going to require people to get a permit when it’s not required? When it’s settled law? … Is DOA suggesting that they are going to violate settled law in order to conduct an illegal permit process and they will require us to sue the DOA yet again which is at taxpayer expense for the DOA to defend it?”

In reply Chief Tubbs asserted that the largest protests this year were under permits. Tubbs said, “..let me be clear: the permits are not new.”

I made a quick call to Jeff Scott Olsen, an expert in constitutional law who served for decades as attorney for the late constitutional activist Ben Masel. He said Leslie was referencing a lawsuit which challenges the constitutionality of DOA-issued permits to assemble at the Capitol. The filing was amended to substitute the organization NORML for Ben in September. He said that around that time Wisconsin’s Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar told him DOA was going to replace existing regulations in October or November of this year. Olsen said he will work on fighting the DOA case ASAP now that new procedures are out, but he can not pinpoint when his 1st legal action will take place.

After listening to about 1 hour of non-answer answers on DOA’s policy this morning, I thought I may as well give it a shot. I asked, “Do you think that these procedural changes are in line with the principles of democracy?” I got answer # 2 from Schoenherr.

From behind me Jenna Pope shot back at Schoenherr, “You realize that by saying this over and over again it doesn’t make it true.”

The new DOA policy is set to go into effect on Saturday December 17. According to WNPJ, the sponsor of the singing group, Monday, December 19th will be the first day the Solidarity Sing-Along will be subject to the new policy. You can keep up to date with the Solidarity Sing Along group through their facebook page.

More images from the disinformation session are at the blue cheddar facebook page.

Link to highlights of the 22 page policy and a PDF copy.

The ACLU write-up: DOA Information Session on Protest Permit/Liability Scheme Leaves Citizens with More Questions

Brian Standing’s WORT FM report on this event is in this audio news report.

Social & Book-Signing for ‘Cut From Plain Cloth’ Dec. 14, 4-8 pm

Do you ever feel like you miss the “good old days” of the Madison protests? Here’s your chance to relive them from the comfort of your own home. December 14 from 4-8 pm there will be a book signing and social event for the book “Cut from Plain Cloth” at the City Center Plaza in Appleton. Click here for driving directions. It is the perfect opportunity to meet with and share your own protest stories with the author, like minded people and local elected officials. The best part is it’s all done in the warmth of the great indoors, so there’s no need to bundle up for this event.

Green Gecko Grocer and Deli is offering $2.50 micro brew Wisconsin beers for the event. Copies of the book will be for sale at this event and the author will sign them for you. It will make the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person on your list.

“Cut from Plain Cloth” was written by Dennis Weidemann and features stories and people from the protests last winter. Every protester had their own unique story to tell. The 19 stories and 150 pictures in the book are sure to keep this wonk busy for hours.

Victoria Huss is the force behind this event. Her thoughts on the book can be found at the Fox Valley Scene newspaper.

“In his newly published hardcover book, Cut From Plain Cloth: The 2011 Wisconsin Workers Protests, Weidemann combines photos and stories collected by conducting interviews while marching with protesters in the largest protests Wisconsin has seen in 40 years. With 19 stories interspersed among 150 photographs, Weidemann tells the stories of the faces in the crowds and “paints an intimate portrait of protesters as diverse as America itself.” Even upon a quick perusal of this book, one begins to realize that the rosy-cheeked folks rallying around Capitol in the snow and freezing cold were more than just out of state agitators, thugs, and slobs. They were librarians, laborers, police officers, farmers, students, nurses, firemen, war veterans, teachers, grandmothers, and entire families…from Wisconsin.”

There is a Facebook event for this happening. Please join this event and share it with all of your like minded friends and family. It’s sure to be a great time!

Contact Victoria with any questions you may have. She can be reached by (920) 427-7653 or email

Police and Fire Fighters Gear Up to Fight and Win Against Scott Walker

Image above provided courtesy of Derek Brabender

The Park Street Labor Temple in Madison was wall to wall people as we revisited memories of the past year and readied ourselves to face the future. Thank you police officers and fire fighters, bagpipe players and drummers, and speakers John Nichols of The Nation, Brian Austin of MPPOA, Mark Sanders of OAPFF, Sly of WTDY, Joe Conway of Madison Firefighters 311, and Harold Schaitberger of IAFF for your part in the wonderful Returning to Wisconsin Values event and for your commitment to Wisconsin’s fight.


If you’d like to see all of these videos in one uninterrupted 20 minute session, click the very last video. I have an audio recording of the entire set of speeches which will be ready later today.

DOA vs. Wisconsin Citizens: Radically Restricted use of Wisconsin Capitol Building Unveiled

This DOA policy change is aimed at cracking down on freedoms in the Capitol building, especially protests, and specifically what I’ve been told is the world’s longest running labor protest, the Solidarity Sing Along. Here are the main points from a 22 page DOA policy for use of Capitol and state buildings of Wisconsin which I’ve heard goes into effect January 1st, 2012 Dec. 17 after a “an education period”.

Starting with most WTF policy point first:
*No civil legal recourse is available for death, injury, damage or theft of property that a Wisconsin citizen may experience in a state facility. The state and its departments, employees, agents, are “held harmless” for all suits, damages, claims, or other liabilities related to death,injury,damage, or theft of property. [Very nice for any law enforcement that might like to toss you on the floor or twist your arm, for example.]

*Helium balloons are not allowed in the Capitol. [On the bright side, this reduces the odds of a staffer trying to come at your balloon with a knife]

*Where a “public area” is can change at any time and the only areas deemed public are the ground and 1st floors of the Capitol. [Damn capricious.]

*All “events” must have a permit but for “spontaneous” events and spontaneous events must occur in response to a “triggering” event which occurred in the previous week or is occurring. Events that are advertised by social media and other means 7 or more days before the event are not “spontaneous”. [Republicans are providing so many triggers for protest, this isn’t a big deal…]

*Vandalism, theft, loss, breakage determined to be caused by the event participants will be charged to them. [A deterrent given the previous $7.5 million dollar estimate scrawled on notepaper]

*A rally is defined as 4 or more people. [We’re talking barbershop quartets and the Raging Grannies, protesters in matching shirts–just any group of people that looked remotely “together”. Here’s a workaround: look like lobbyists. They’re guaranteed entry any time.]

*Events held during working hours, 8-12 and 1-4, will be under 90 decibels. [for comparison, a vacuum cleaner reaches approx. 80 decibels. 90 decibels is roughly equivalent to a shouted conversation.] But the policy states “any sound should be as low as possible”.

*The charge for extra law enforcement will be charged to the protesters at $50/hour for Capitol police and at whatever other law enforcement charge for reimbursement and the charges incurred may be required up front before the permit is granted. [Wealthy protesters are alright. Poor-not OK. See previous note about lobbyists.]

*No signs affixed to any walls,statuary,trees,windows, etc.

*Permits are required on the state grounds if over 100 participants are expected.

From the S.S.Along facebook page–and I assume this is Chris Reeder writing: “I have been in touch with the ACLU, and am working to obtain legal counsel. I will most likely be sitting down with a DOA lawyer at some point and discussing this. I’ve also let my State Rep. (the fantastic Chris Taylor) and Sen. Larson’s office know about this….
My current opinion on getting a permit has not changed. We have been protesting at the Capitol every single weekday since March 11, well over 200 times now, without a permit. I firmly believe that what we are doing is protected speech, and occupying the rotunda (politely, joyfully, peacefully, and harmoniously) without a permit has been one of the central tenets of what the sing along has been about since March…

Suggestions on other actions to take:
Call or email your State Senator and State Rep. Make sure they know about this and encourage them to take action to protect our free speech.

Write a letter to the editor of any of the Wisconsin papers. Make sure they know about this attack on free speech by Walker and the DOA.”