lent

After insisting for three weeks that smashing public worker unions is a necessary “budget repair” measure, the Wisconsin Republicans went into Executive Session this evening to delete the fiscal parts of the “budget repair bill” (which lack a Constitutional quorum without the absent Democratic Senators) and voted to pass the non-fiscal parts, including most collective bargaining rights for public workers. Reports are that a thousand people converged on the Capitol and that protesters inside the Capitol opened the doors to let in other protesters and the police could not stop them. The Capitol is now re-occupied and Facebook is full of calls to people to head to the Capitol, although the twitter stream seems to say that Madison teachers are being advised to go to work tomorrow. The Assembly is scheduled to vote at 8am tomorrow. Twitter feed seems to say that the Assembly hall has been occupied by protesters. Part of the rush appears to be that the legislature plans to recess for a month beginning tomorrow.

late monday as it gets colder and uglier in Madison

Although I’ve been sick, my spouse and I decided to go to the 6pm rally for a while. It’s been in the 20s today — not all that bad for here — but it is supposed to get down to 12 overnight. (That’s in Fahrenheit, or -11 for the rest of the world.) It is clear that the goal of clearing the Capitol is to get dissident voices out for the Governor’s budget message tomorrow. Rumors are flying. Continue reading “late monday as it gets colder and uglier in Madison”

policing, repression & solidarity

It’s getting tense today in Madison. The Department of Administration (not the Capitol Police) has issued a series of orders that have the effect of not allowing protesters into the Capitol and of making things tough for the few still inside. People who are authorized to enter by a legislator are being escorted in and out, not permitted to stay and join the protest. There are rumors that the small numbers still inside are being played on national media (FOX anyone?) as a sign of diminished protest enthusiasm. The police and protesters are trying to work ways around this, but the police are following orders and are apparently unwilling not to follow orders. Protesters accuse the Governor of trying to force a confrontation between police and protesters. There are actually lines in the Wisconsin Constitution that say that the Capitol must be open to the public so groups are filing suit to get court orders to reopen the Capitol. In short, even police who side with the protesters can engage in repression if they follow orders.  The commitment to peacefulness and cooperation has been the protest’s strength, but this commitment has [edit: I discovered this sentence fragment: the sentence should end with something like, but may be its undoing? or . . .  opens questions about this strategy?]

The Governor will be giving his budget message tomorrow and he is hoping to have a clear field. A rally has been called for 6.

madison and back to disparities

Quote of the evening (partly paraphrased): “I know you sat around and let Walker get elected. You-all didn’t think Walker was going to hurt YOU-all, just us Black and Brown and poor people.”

This seemed fitting, as I’ve been party to many political conversations about the narrowing of the protest to the collective bargaining issue. Continue reading “madison and back to disparities”

protest food & supplies

If you are following this story, you may have read that people from all around the world have been ordering pizza for the protesters; one pizza firm has now stopped doing any other business. But at least the grad students in the TAA are getting tired of pizza and have finally found the time to set up a PayPal account to accept donations for other kinds of food, plus the other supplies and expenses of protesting. If you are so inclined, here’s the link: http://www.helpdefendwisconsin.org They’d appreciate it if you share the link.

This is, of course, NOT tax-deductible.

wisconsin nice

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 Continue reading “wisconsin nice”

madison saturday mini-update

My spouse and I were downtown this morning for part 1 of today’s events but couldn’t spend the day. We decided to do our part to inflate the pro-union crowd before the pro-Walker rally and then head home. Given what we saw as we left, I think it will have gotten a lot bigger after we were gone. Folks actually on site will have to fill in the details. Continue reading “madison saturday mini-update”

madison snippets

I just happened to be inside the Capitol when Jesse Jackson showed up. It was a pretty amazing site to see him leading an overwhlemingly (but not exclusively) White crowd singing “We Shall Overcome” and reminding them that King supported workers’ rights.

It’s a huge crowd, a lovely day by our standards (sunny and in the 30s), high spirits all around. It’s like a giant party there, inside, outside, all around the town. The Democratic Senators are sequestered out of state somewhere; the Democratic Representatives are wearing orange T-shirts saying something like “Democratic Representatives in solidarity with labor.”  (corrected to “Assembly Democrats Standing Up for Labor”) The labor speaker who offered financial concessions straight up and said “this is not about money” was only half-heartedly cheered by the crowd, but everybody screamed in support when he yelled that it is about the right to organize and workers’ rights are human rights.

There’s actually a lot more in that bill than attacks on public unions, including devastating cuts in health services for low income people, but it is clear that the attack on collective bargaining and the idea of unions is what is pulling out the troops. A speaker at the rally said that the Michigan governor has said he won’t go after the unions.

House Reps Assembly Democrats* are keeping testimony going in a rump session of the Joint Finance Committee after the Republican majority declared the hearing closed so they could get on with their vote. I’ve been a little puzzled about why the twitter feed keep exhorting people to sign up to testify in the middle of the night, but apparently this is because the Capitol is kept open if there is a public meeting gonig on.

Again there was a reference at the rally to protests elsewhere. I don’t have time to track them down, but a grad student who saw my previous post said this blog entry links to some of them: http://hiphopandpolitics.com/2011/02/18/class-warfare-in-wisconsin-10-things-you-should-know/

I don’t have a smart phone and don’t have a text plan (texts cost me 20 cents each) so I’m pretty much off the grid when I’m down at the protest. It’s hard to know what is going on without a smart phone now. I’m going to take my wifi-enabled planner back down there to see if I can manage to do anything with the TAA’s set-up.

* Sorry for the goofs, I typed this quickly in a 30 minute break.