I thought some of you who are studying repression and such might enjoy this local news report (source: http://www.channel3000.com/news/26927705/detail.html ):
MADISON, Wis. — Madison police estimated that crowds on the Capitol Square peaked at about 60,000 people. That’s not much less than a Wisconsin Badgers football game at Camp Randall, but police reported that despite the crowds there were no arrests made.
“On behalf of all the law enforcement agencies that helped keep the peace on the Capitol Square Saturday, a very sincere thank you to all of those who showed up to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Madison police said in a statement. “(Protesters) conducted themselves with great decorum and civility.”
The national spotlight was shining brightly on the state of Wisconsin. Saturday was also the first day that Tea Party members showed up in support of Gov. Scott Walker, but despite opposing views there were no incidents to report.
As of 5 p.m., police said there were no major incidents and no arrests. Police said discourse and discussion was, at times, loud and heated.
As previously indicated, the goal of law enforcement has been to provide a safe environment for democracy to take place. That goal has been realized for yet another day, police officials said.”
Edit 1: Just so I don’t sound like I’ve completely lost my capacity for sociological analysis: (1) Protesters are White, middle-class and predominantly drawn from the same community and stratum as the police; (2) The police are on the same side of the issue as the protesters; (3) There is a substantial cadre of experienced protesters of all ages who can draw on a well-developed tactical and organizational repertoire of action and teach it to others; (4) The sheer numbers of protesters and the teachers’ job actions are sufficient disruption in themselves, and they have political allies in the legislative Democrats: they don’t need confrontational tactics; (5) They are being stigmatized by media portrayals of the protest as violent or potentially violent and have a stake in disciplining those who try to provoke confrontation; (6) Liberal protest-tolerant town, police are well trained in managing large crowds and are expected to adhere to the principles of first-amendment policing even for protesters they don’t like. (I did interviews with them on this topic some years ago.) (7) They already had media attention and did not need confrontation to get it. Instead, the media gaze gave them a stake in looking nice. There were fears on the union side that the pro-Walker protesters would try to cause trouble to make them look bad. I don’t know what the goal on the pro-Walker side was (maybe the grad student studying the Wisconsin Tea Party will know) but I’ll bet they also wanted to look good to the outside eye.
Edit 2: Harry at crooked timber has a nice overall summary of the protest, with pictures.