By the Oz Collective
A Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s History of the Occupation of the State Capitol in Madison,Wisconsin
Wi sco n s i n Occ u pati o n Z i n e
February 13 - March 12, 2011 and continuing
Introduction Yellow Brick Roads and Red Balloons
to our zine about the Spring 2011 occupation of the State Capitol building in Wisconsin. We the people snowballed politicians and police and undermined established social norms by playing, singing, sleeping and dancing in OUR PEOPLE’S HOUSE(!) – the State Capitol building. And Ahh! What a beaut it is! – up there glowing all night on the hill, looking down from above at our city and state. Occupying and infusing the capitol building with our popular movements makes it a beacon of hope for democracy uprisings globally and for sister cities across the world. Zine entries were collected by volunteers from the Madison InfoShop and friends who lived in the capitol in February and March. We received dozens of testimonial-style entries, poems, songs, videos and hundreds of photos and edited for clarity and space. We tracked down people who had participated in a variety of ways during the occupation, including occupying the state assembly chambers, and continued outreach until the last days of assemblage. We conducted audio interviews to capture their stories. In this second printing, we included three articles that were lost by our worker elves at OZ central. We received a Teaching Assistants Association (TAA) Defend Wisconsin grant of $500 to create this publication, but in the end, it was people power that pushed this through. Thank you to TAA and all the amazing volunteers for making this work possible! We had on-going discussions with each other, and those who were curious, about the OZ (Occupation Zine) Collective and who and what that was. The OZ Collective is you, the OZ Collective is me, and it is largely made up of those who did the hard work of putting everything together into a cohesive whole. My hope is that this collection of photos, stories, poems and images from Wisconsin will be received as documenting testimony of our social uprisings for love, justice, peace and freedom throughout the world. Finally, it was a long yellow brick road that brought us to the Wizard’s Castle, but we have arrived, and it is time to point out the little man behind the curtain. We need to continue standing up for our rights and let the red, heart-shaped balloons released into the rotunda speak to us of the heart at the center of our movement(s). Enjoy! Downloadable and printable zine available at www.occupationzine.org Thistle Of the OZ Collective The OZ Collective ThankS
Thistle PETTERSEN – Copy Editor and Grant-Writer Donna Magdalina – Chief Editor, Design Editor, Layout and Photography daniel spitzberg – Brainstorming and website work Joe Brewer – Audio Recorder and Transcriber Bridget Peterson/JOSEPH THOENNES – Selection Hallis D. Mailen – Cover art: Hunger strike solidarity banner (Hunger strike day 118 as zine goes to print 10/7/11) TAA/Blanc-a-abee / Olive Lewinski Albanese / RYAN CONNER / Ran Domino / Matthew Kearney / Magda Konieczna / jessica horn / Brian Rothgery / Harriet Rowan / Norm stockwell / Sarah Tops / Tina Treviño-Murphy / JOHN PECK / Mary Jo Walters / SHANNON WALTON / KATE WHEELER / All the many folks who contributed songs, photos, stories, articles and poems to the zine! APOLOGIES FOR ALL THAT WE MISSED in THE FIRST PRINT edition!
Week 1: 1 Week
Sunday February 13 - Saturday February 19 • The Sleep-in begins • Learning Together • Growing an Autonomous Zone
one MONTH month ONE
Sunday February 13 - Saturday March 12
Week 2: 2 Week
A Growing Movement
Week 3: 3 Week
Week 4: 4 Week
Storming the Capitol
Sunday February 20 - Saturday February 26 • Feeding Hungry Protesters • Madison Street Medics Sunday February 27 - Saturday March 5 • The Police State • Childcare in the Capitol
Sunday March 6 - Saturday March 12 • Siege of the Capitol • Reoccupation • Tractorcade / Return of the fab 14
Sleeping at the capitol
Tuesday-Wednesday: February 15-16 / Ryan Harvey WEEK
I came to Madison and slept in the Capitol for five nights during the occupation. I wanted to get a clear understanding of the movement’s depth, capacity and commitment. I traveled back more recently to get the story of how the occupation came to be, how it was organized, how people have reflected on it since and the role it has played in the mass movement here. February 14, 2011, Valentine’s Day: “I ♥ UW - Don’t Break My ♥,” read the cards that 2,000 students lined
15, according to the Associated Press, 13,000 people demonstrated against the bill. A few weeks later, the crowds would break 100,000. Inside the Capitol, thousands lined up to give twominute testimonies to a joint finance committee of the state government. UW student Tom Bird, originally from Oshkosh, was one of them. He had not been politically active before. He and over 1,000 other UW students walked out on February 16. Bird said the four hours he spent listening to others speak as he awaited his turn changed him. “From 3:00 until 7:00 was probably the most driving experience I’d ever had in my life to get involved,” he said. “The stuff I heard was just jaw-dropping.” After Republicans walked out, Democrats announced they would keep the hearings, now unofficial, running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People began sleeping in the halls and rotunda to hold the space so the testimonies could continue. An excerpt from “Wisconsin’s Capitol City Was Anette Hansen
Mary Jo Walters
up to deliver to Governor Walker, calling for the rights of students and educators to be respected in the recently published budget repair bill. Though the protest at the Capitol had been planned weeks earlier, the massive turnout reflected the angry response to the bill’s details. “It was a starting point to show people in a very immediate way that people are reacting to [the bill],” said participant Sara Lam, a University of Wisconsin (UW) graduate student. Organizers quickly realized that the next day’s demonstrations would be significant. Indeed, on February
Testing Grounds For Participatory Democracy,” by Ryan Harvey at www.truthout.org
Voices of solidarity
My first day protesting the Budget Repair Bill was Tuesday, February 15. I spent hours chanting and waving signs, then came home in the evening to feed my appetite, both for dinner and for any news article that I could get my hands on. This pattern (protest by day, consume media accounts of the protests by night) quickly became my routine. By the end of the first week, I had become as infuriated with the misleading media accounts that were emerging on a national level as I was with Governor Walker’s proposal. Determined to do whatever I could to interrupt the news narrative and to give the people at the square a way to communicate directly with their fellow citizens, I had the idea of starting a YouTube channel to collect videos from the protests. Within hours, help poured in: a few colleagues volunteered to put together a video inviting people to submit their stories, several out-of-state friends offered to set up a website and write press releases, and even former Madison resident Dan Savage returned a desperate email with a phone call advising me how to start a channel based on the It Gets Better Project. Just like that, Voices of Solidarity WI was born. Check us out at www.youtube.com/VoicesOfSolidarityWI and submit your own videos to email@example.com. Though not its original mission, the channel is most important to me now as a source of inspiration to harness our creativity, keep fighting, and stand strong together. From Voices of Solidarity - WI (youtube channel)
TUESDAY: February 15 / Katy Swalwell
A cold morning roar Tuesday: February 15 / Martha Chiappetti
The first day I heard about the events at the Capitol was Monday night Feb. 14. The next day I went to the Capitol and checked it out. It was a cold morning and my daughter put on her snow pants so we could stay outside. I brought my roommate. As we were walking to the Capitol from two blocks away I could hear a loud sound and wondered if that was a roar. I got excited and all of us are walking faster. We approached the Capitol and I distinguished the sound as a roaring crowd. We all ran into it. I saw thousands of people just like me. For months I had been feeling anxious, unable to get a night’s rest and now here before us were thousands of people cheering and roaring in an uprising against our oppressive government. Here were comrades, just like me, who felt the same anguish as I did all those sleepless nights. Not being able to pin point what was wrong, but feeling uneasy and unsure why. I raised my right arm in the air and shouted, “this is what I am made for.” Revolution in Evolution ... I knew then that I was not alone. I was supported by hundreds of thousands of people who felt the same anxiousness and wrongness and a willingness to stand up and fight.... That’s what I remember about my first day of the rallies. My Valentine gift from the universe. A gift of togetherness of the people, by the people and for the people. Donna Magdalina
Teachers rally at the square
Tuesday: February 15 / Nanci Olson Tibbetts
On February 15, two teachers I work with, my sister, who works at Monona Grove high school, and I went down to the Capitol Square after work for a rally at 5:00 pm and a candlelight vigil at 7:00 pm. I’m a special Ed Assistant at Whitehorse Middle School in Madison. It was chilly and wet, then became hazy as the evening settled in. We were up by the speaker podium at the State Street entrance to the capitol and stood shoulder to shoulder with people, who I now call my brothers and sisters, from unions I never even knew existed. There were so, so many folks.
The infomation Station was a centrally located hub providing flyers, bedding, food, water, car-sharing, call-outs, lists of supplies needed, rally info, etc.
tions: the beauty of the building and the hope it stands for; my pride of being a union member; my love for Madison, living and raising three children here; wondering if the bill was going to be voted on the next day as I had heard. My feet were numb from the cold. The speakers were riveting. Then we worked our way down to the foot of the State Street stairway. Word arrived that the faculty reps’ meeting had concluded and a decision had been made. We were needed downtown all day Wednesday to protest the Budget Repair Bill because as soon as
citizen testimonies were done, a vote would be taken by the legislators. With a republican majority, the bill would pass. I will always remember the feeling that came over me. I looked at my building rep and we nodded at each other. Without hesitation I said, “Okay, I’m in.” I swallowed, blood rushed through out my entire body in a panic, then slowed as I began a mental list of what I had to do next .... get everyone home- notify the members of my unit at my school- call in my absence- call the EA president for direction of what I am telling people when I call them .... someone asked about sub notes, someone else said don’t bother. I spent the next days as a nomad, wandering around the capitol and surrounding streets morning to night. Each day brought a new story as different Donna Magdalina school districts joined us along with students, plumbers, electricians, cops, boilermakers, glaziers, firefighters, At this point the bill was fresh and my concerns were plasterers, veterans, transit, non-union workers, iron only about my own paycheck. I had no idea how much else was buried in the bill. I didn’t sign up to testify, but I workers and many more. The wail of bagpipes would bring all to silence. The did sign another blue slip opposing the bill. enormity of this solidarity brought me to tears. Stay I saw the reflection of our capitol on a building on Strong! Mifflin Street that gave me such a combination of emo-
I did not know
Tuesday: February 15 / Sara Hulsether On February 15th, 2011: I didn’t know the name of my State senator. I didn’t know what a quorum was, or that it’s needed in order to take a vote for fiscal matters. I didn’t know what buses went to the capital square. I didn’t know that I could be in an enclosed building with my children and 4,000 people chanting and feel safe and involved. I didn’t know why the Teamsters logo had horses on it, or what AFSCME stood for. I didn’t know what Macaroni & Cheese pizza tasted like, or that Wisconsin was the first state to have public sector unions 50 years ago. I didn’t know what open meeting laws were, or that you can ignore a court injunction. I didn’t know that we had so many clever people in our state. I didn’t know that my marching around the capital 3 times a week could give hope to people in California, New Jersey and Egypt. Wendy Schneider I didn’t know that I could cry at the sound of a bagpipe, or the lyrics of “Solidarity Forever.” I didn’t realize how beautiful our capitol is, or how offensive it felt to be shut out of it. I didn’t know I could dance to a drum line for twenty minutes straight, or calmly ask my neighbor if she was aware of the possible no bid power plant sales, without judging her, when she said “no” . I didn’t know that I would recognize Jon Erpenbach, or Rep Barca like a friend and call out to them on the street. I didn’t know who Glen Grothman was, or that I could question him clearly about what he has done to this state. I didn’t know what it felt like to pump fists and slap hands with union correction officers, or know that I could feel Anette Hansen unity with cops, firefighters or steel workers. I didn’t know what pride in the job felt like, or what power and knowledge in the face of injustice did to me. I didn’t know what the DOA, and the LRB were, or the difference between the DOJ and the SOS. I didn’t know that people in power could repeatedly abuse the system and go against orders because “no one would make them” follow the rules. I didn’t know who the Koch brothers were, or what they made--I still don’t know the whole extent. I didn’t know that I would never shop at Kwik-Trip, Menards, M&I or eat Johnsonville brats anymore. I didn’t know that when I was overwhelmed with despair I could hand some of it over to my friends to take a load off of me, and that sometimes I could do the same for them. I didn’t know how much it meant to teachers that I stood for their collective bargaining rights and that I appreciated what they do each day. I didn’t know that I would be thanked for my presence as I would thank others for theirs. I still don’t know how to get out of the capital in my intended direction. I didn’t know that solidarity across such a diverse mix of people could feel so good and natural. I didn’t know how much it scared me to think of public education being destroyed, and the middle class being abolished slowly. I didn’t know how shocked I could be at unchecked power when standing with a legislator locked out of the capital prior to an assembly vote. Anette Hansen I didn’t know how sad I could be to realize humans plan to treat others with such blatant disregard. I didn’t know I could have such brimming hope seeing a group of 800 high school students walking up State St. I didn’t know I could have no fear of violence in a crowd of 150,000 people. I didn’t know how loud a bucket drum could be, or how quiet and alone I could feel in my own home. I never dreamed the response to a master plan of power shift could transform me into a hopeful being. I never knew how proud I was to be from Wisconsin, and how lucky I was to be able to take a bus to be part of and watch history unfold. I had never felt such a combination of shocked outrage and confident resolve. I didn’t know what solidarity felt like, what democracy looked like, whose house it was, who has to go, and what is disgusting. I didn’t know how much fun it was to honk in rhythm, or march with 40,000 people on a cold February day in the snow. I didn’t know what it would feel like to see my father “wanded”, or sing protests songs with my family in the rotunda. I didn’t know the generosity of the world, or what it would feel like to tap into such strong unity of purpose. I didn’t know how exhausting it could be to politely request to be heard and to be so rudely ignored. I didn’t know how insulting being pushed aside felt like. I didn’t know how right it felt to be singing a prayer for healing outside by Ms. Forward, while cars honked “this is what democracy looks like.” I never dreamed that group outrage could feel so peaceful, strong and uniting. So much I didn’t know, but now I know. Now we can all know.
We’ve been here all along friday: February 18 / Jeanette Martín
School is cancelled
Wednesday: February 16 / Shannon Walton
Below: Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) UW students rally in the rotunda, beginning their particpation in the occupation. Below center: Madison Info Shop set up lending library. Below right: Capoeira group performs in family space.
The occupations were nothing more than a manifestation of a broken system. We had been marching since 2006 for the rights for our families to live here in the U.S. as immigrants Now people want to occupy the state capitol, now people want to get out of work, now people want to make pickets signs, now people want to shut down the schools for three consecutive days, now people want to give a fuck when their pockets are being tampered with. That’s the real SHAME. The presence of the communities of color on February 18, and March 19 were intentional. No one is free when other are oppressed. This affects US.
My boys and I involved ourselves in the rally the first day they canceled school. We went down to the capitol on that Wednesday. We also attended the night Tom Morrello played at the Monona Terrace, and the day a friend and an online friend materialized from out of state to attend the rally and later, as well. On Friday, February 18, Our day of demonstration, had just begun. We made signs. One read, “I ♥ my teachers” the other one, “I’m spending my birthday demonstrating.” My little one was wished “happy birthday” by many, including a policewoman. We met my sister and her family at the main library. They had been at the downtown rally all morning so we let the kids run around in the children’s section for awhile. Then we decided to find some coffee and hot chocolate on State street. During our time, inside, my older child mentioned to someone passing by that my younger one turned three that day. The man
Z Lula Haukeness
Right: Tim Lehmann, hauls in the hepa vac, kick-starting TAA-led daily clean-up shifts. Far right: With limited access to outlets, two charging stations emerged with long waits causing suspended communications.
Mary Jo Walters
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gave the birthday boy two bucks. As soon as we left, my 3 year-old wet his pants. I had extra clothes for him, but no socks, so for the rest of the day he was wearing his boots without socks. We ended up staying later than I expected, since rumor had it that Jesse Jackson would be speaking at 5:00pm. We hung around till the weather turned cold and dark. By 6:30 or 7:00, my hungry boys, one of them sockless, could no longer be expected to endure the cold. We returned home for the night.
Roses at our feet WEDNESDAY: February 16 / Thistle
I walked to the capitol carrying my sleeping bag in the fresh snow, admiring the sparkling white blanket on February 16th. The capitol dome loomed like a glowing chrysalis just up the hill held by the night sky behind it. There was a single red rose petal, perfectly velvet and shaped into a deep red, directly in front of me, as I stepped onto King Street. I picked it up and watched as its form slowly lost its firmness in my warm palm. I put it in my pocket, looked up at the glowing dome and marched forth. This would be my first night sleeping over in that wondrous building up on the hill. That night I met some friends from Ecstatic Dance practice and we slept up on the third floor next to the Supreme Court room. The drumming stopped at about 11:00 pm. The voices stopped at around midnight. I heard a poster drop from the wall at 3 in the morning. People actually slept, and I woke up refreshed and surprised by how nice Our House was shaping up to be. My friendship with one of the women from Ecstatic Dance became stronger after sleeping over. We decided to be capitol occupation buddies and check-in regularly with each other by phone about where and when we would be at the capitol. The following Wednesday, my friend was facilitating a community Spirit Dance at the Center for Conscious Living on East Washington. I stopped by with my sleeping bag and tooth brush before heading up to the capitol. After the dance was over, someone gave me all the white rose petals off the altar and offered me the responsibility of taking them to Our House. I accepted and took them, lining the inside circle of the rotunda with rose petals where there was an open-mic and several people with drums. After placing the petals around the rotunda on the floor, I asked to use the mic to lead everyone in an “Om-thedome.” I referenced the yippies of the 1960’s and how they had tried to levitate the pentagon. Nobody groaned and almost everyone omed that night. This was the third of six “Om-the-Domes” that happened throughout the course of the occupation. I had worn my fairy wings and face paint so when the om was over and the drumming reached a heightened pitch, I danced with a group of five or six people in the rotunda with wings. It was a dance my legs and body had never spun before. We were a hive of bees, occupying the dome in our
thunderous humming and vibrating. Each “om” had its own unique character, depending on the moment and the situation in which it was uttered. I will never forget when the fire fighters marched into the rotunda with all their gear and sleeping bags to the roar of the crowd. Once they were inside, an open-mic provided another opportunity to facilitate a grounding, centering group “om.” I was impressed with the calming, spiritual ambiance the “oms” created, no matter who was in the rotunda at the time. Nurses, fire fighters and teachers from their unions were in an open state of mind and ready to try collective, universal chanting of the simple “om.” People started sending me facebook messages asking me when the next “om-the-dome” was going to be. After leading it for the sixth time, I began asking others if they would lead an “om” when I couldn’t be there. My vision was for it to be so easy and so compelling that others would take up leadership and do it without me. I wanted to share our innate ability to function with group mind, like a hive of bees, in tune to the “om” coming from us as individuals and from us as the whole group. There are ruptures here and there, in the businessas-usual of our daily lives under capitalist rule. It is in these ruptures that we find the space we need to unlearn oppres-
Below left: Non-violent trainings. Below: “Where are you from?” (map of Wisconsin) poster.
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sion and learn our collective liberation. Thank you Wisconsin for co-creating a rupture and taking over the space that is rightfully ours. I look forward to more ruptures in the future and to more collective activity. Check out Thistle’s music at www.thistlespace.org
Occupation of the State Capitol | timeline
Thursday 2/10 Afternoon. Gov Scott Walker briefs both the Senate and Assembly Republicans on the Budget Repair Bill (BRB). Other representatives and the Wisconsin Counties Association also briefed by invitation only. Friday 2/11 10am: Gov Walker holds press conference. 11 am: Jeff Fitzgerald’s spokesperson outlines plan -hearings to be held Tuesday, Wednesday, and a vote in the Assembly on Thursday. Saturday 2/12 We start to learn, the BRB includes cuts to BadgerCare. TAA begins phone banking. Sunday 2/13 Organized protest begins. Hundreds show up to the Governor’s Mansion with signs. Monday 2/14 Valentine’s Rally: Teaching Assistants’ Association union (TAA) and Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC) deliver Valentines: “I ♥ UW, don’t break my ♥” to Governor’s Office. Night rally. TAA reserves 300 NE in the capitol for the week to lobby against the BRB. Organizing meeting at night, how romantic! Tuesday 2/15 Drum Circle in rotunda begins. Public workers and teachers call in sick. East & West High School students walk out. Parents scramble for childcare, many come to the capitol to show support. Rally against the BRB: “Hands Off our Public Workers,” held. AFSCME International Prez speaks. Joint Finance Committee begins public all-day hearings; thousands testify. United Council representatives begin helping with capitol logistics. Room 300 NE in the capitol becomes headquarters of TAA. Access to fourth floor of building shut down by authorities. TAA and other unions text, email, make phone calls to get as many people into the capitol as possible. Facebook event: “Sleep w/your TA”. Noon and evening rallies. Medic Station/Free Store/Free Food area set up in basement. Hot food served from a push cart comes from local farms, grocery stores, and Mermaid Café, Lots of coffee from Michangelo’s. No police presence. Doors wide open. Signs allowed. Wednesday 2/16 Madison Public Schools cancel school (16th-21st). Information Station is set up. Peaceful Protest trainings, flyers, circulate. Food continues to be donated, this time, from around the world. “UW Walk It Out with Our Professors,” rally to the capitol. American Federation of Teachers’ national president speaks. Noon and evening rallies held. Sleep-In at the capitol with lots of high school students. Capitol police lock doors at 2am. A strategy group forms late in the night. Republicans walk out of hearings at 3am. Lena Taylor immediately holds press conference, invites public to put heads down on the marble and wake in the morning to continue with testimonies. Thursday 2/17 Testimony continues all day. Members of Madison Infoshop bring Infoshop lending library to first floor. Flyer calling for a people’s assembly is circulated. Drum circle continues. Hundreds of people in the
capitol. Protestors start to clean. Senate convenes with no Democrats present. Sen. Larsen of the 14 Senate Democrats has a close call as he leaves town with other Democratic senators until March 13. Group sit-in outside his door, preventing law enforcement from getting in. Nine intentionally arrested near Assembly chambers. American Federation of Teachers’ national prez speaks. Mike puts up Ian’s pizza box signs. Peaceful protests trainings begin. First temporary family space in West Wing set up. Youth put signs onto the walls with blue tape. Police take them down. MTI union teacher, Iris Patterson teaches us to own the chant: WHOSE HOUSE? crowd reply: OUR HOUSE!! Ed Schultz broadcasts live. Doors locked at Midnight. Group of protestors locked out and try to get back in. They succeed. Strategy group continues to work with the capitol police. Friday 2/18 Protesters blocking Assembly chamber delays the BRB. Noon and evening rallies. Jesse Jackson and AFL-CIO national prez speak. Feingold leads firefighter march through rotunda (not the first). 600 Milwaukee Public School teachers call in sick and march into the capitol chanting, “We! Are! M-P-S!” Marching in four-abreast to wild cheers, it still takes 30 minutes for most to get in, although all can’t fit into the over-stuffed building. They join 16 other school districts that have been forced to close due to large volumes of sick calls. Blue testimonial slips collected all day for reading on floor. Democrats in caucus all day writing amendments for the BRB. Fitzgerald takes a vote to engross (making the BRB unamendable) with most Republicans and zero Democrats present at 4:56pm, before the scheduled 5pm meeting time. Four Assembly Democrats rush in at 4:57 while vote is being taken. The illegal vote is rescinded by Fitzgerald after Democratic outrage. Assembly adjourned until Tuesday. Injunction hearing, Madison Public Schools vs MTI (Madison Teacher’s Union). Members of Madison’s Ecstatic Dance community hold a dance with boom box on second floor near Supreme Court chambers. Building closed at midnight with hundreds sleeping over. Many in Madison’s homeless community join solidarity sleep-overs, manage the free store, organize the lost and found, and teach protesters a sense of ownership and pride in keeping our house clean. Testimony to staff and Democrat members is heard all night long. Saturday 2/19 “Kill the Bill with Kindness” facebook event formed. State troopers brought in from many counties. Small Tea Party rally draws more media than enormous union rally. In response, TAA begins national media outreach on behalf of strategy group. Doctors come to capitol to write physicians’ notes excusing teachers from work due to stress. TAA begins protester volunteer shifts for orange vested Marshals. More calls on neighborhood list servs, Twitter, Facebook for people needed to testify and sleep over. Thistle leads the first of six “OM
Occupation of the State Capitol | timeline
the Domes.” Sunday 2/20 All but two external doors to capitol are now closed. Medea Benjamin, founder of Code Pink, teaches about Egyptian uprising, a place she has just returned from. A Wellness Space opens at the Anthill Collective House near the capitol. Visits begin with a check-in/ decompression meeting among comrades. The Anthill is open 24/7 to friends and friends-of-friends, but is NOT open to general public. Amenities include a “Briefcase of Wellness” that contains various first aid and herbal remedies, chocolate, comic books, hot tea, coffee, a warm shower, laundry, comfortable couch, nourishing food, and emergency cell-phone contact available 24/7. Public testimony resumes for several hours. Signs are being taken down. More calls for sleeping over inside the capitol. CNN shows up. People line second floor bridges in seated, silent meditation, the first of a series of group meditations. They are a calming presence during the heightened pitch of drumming. Drum circle quiets down at midnight. Olive leads a second round of tai chi in middle of rotunda Monday 2/21 Furlough sick day for state workers. Public testimony ends. Medic table, food table, and informal family space are now in the North Wing where many Democratic Assembly offices are located. Sarah and Ben Manski announce formation of Wisconsin Wave- a coalition . Tom Morello Show. Internet to TAA organizing hub in capitol, room 300NE, is cut off. Router is taken and access to ‘guests’ severely restricted. TAA’s protest info website, DefendWisconsin.org is blocked on internal network. Non-violent trainings all day. Hundreds of protest buttons hit the streets, thanks to Anne who makes them by hand. South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) adopted the general strike resolution initiated by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Fire fighters march in and another Om the Dome takes place with thousands Om-ing the Capitol. Firefighters spend the night. Socialist Alternative flyers distributed at the mass demostrations in Madison. Same with calls for a general strike! Tuesday 2/22 Formal family space set up in the North Wing first Floor that remains until March 3. Police presence changed between Monday and Tuesday. 600 Officers are moved into the capitol in two shifts, many from outside counties. Some are friendly, others protective of the Senate and the governor. Assembly begins debating at 11am and goes all night. 100 amendments to debate. TV’s brought into by Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). Capitol louder than ever. Wednesday 2/23 Ian M places a prank call to Walker pretending to be David Koch. Movie night-Granito de Arena shown--about the teachers’ union struggle in Oaxaca, Mexico. Wisconsin Democracy Campaign starts Citizen Vigil for Greater Good--a tool to teach citizens
how to sit in assembly chambers and bear witness. DefendWisconsin.org donations reach $27,000. Supplies bought are shared throughout the building at medic station and free store. Protesters also stock women’s first floor bathroom with free feminine hygiene products until April. Assembly session from yesterday continues all day and night again. TV monitors on too loud for anyone to sleep. Thursday 2/24 5am: Olive (a medic) takes someone with a horrible cough to the ER. Growing fear of an epidemic within the capitol. Test (-) for Meningitis. (+) for flu. Growing numbers complaining of the “Capitol Cough” and the “Walker Flu.” Teach-in about labor movement is held. Outside protest against the Koch brothers. One arrest of a loud drunk outside the capitol doors. Yusef brings amazing homemade pasta for food table. TV monitors’ volume is turned down. Friday 2/25 1am: Assembly votes on BRB after 60 hours of debate. Republicans do quick engrossment vote in 17 seconds: Democrats Holler “SHAME!!” as loudly as possible while Republicans rush out of the assembly chambers! Statewide rallies held. Amy Goodman comes to the capitol, broadcasts from Madison. East High students march with Rev. Jesse Jackson. New restrictions list of what can be brought in appears at the same time as a press release of support for the protestors from Capitol Police. AND Capitol Police Chief Tubbs announces capitol will close entirely at 4pm Sunday. TAA is asked to leave the building and complies, leaving room 300 NE and moving headquarters to Gilman St. Office. Capitol closes early at 9 pm. Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) and off-duty police officers join the sleepover. Saturday 2/26 Signs appear for unclaimed property to be picked up. Largest rally in Wisconsin history held. Union committee to plan arrest and messaging meeting at the Concourse Hotel. Rufus King High School Drum Line (from Milwaukee) drums in the rotunda. Latin dancers setup massive sound system in hallway on the ground floor and dance in red and black outfits. There are rumors that the food station and medic tables will move to bottom floor. Megaphone request goes out from the rotunda. Off-duty police and prison workers spend the night. Sunday 2/27 Lots of build-up to the kick-out time of 4 pm. Public access limited, to a one-in-one-out policy. State troopers search belongings at entrance. No sleep gear allowed but people sneak it in and share bedding on the inside. People come through windows. Talk of moving the medic and food tables happens. No food or drink is allowed into the capitol. People wait in the snow and cold for hours to get into the building. Signs are removed from all floors except the first and the
Mary Jo Walters
Occupation of the State Capitol | timeline
rotunda. Some are held in Kelda Roys’ Office. Wisconsin Historical Society is rumored to be saving protest signs. At 4:30pm, Peng and Mai Zong Her march with their children, carrying a WISCONSIN FAMILIES banner they made in the family space. They brave the outer circle of the crowded rotunda while others thoughtfully listened to calming yet warning words of Poet Katerina Flores. Police not able to kick protesters out. 7pm: police announce protesters can remain in the building. Occupation split in half! Non-tented sleepover sets up outside and continues all week, despite snow, sleet and freezing rain. Members of Vegan Protest Food, the Medic Collective, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), Student Labor Action Coalition (SLAC), and many more organize blankets, hand warmers, food, and coffee (from Mother Fools and EVP; Leslie (Amsterdam) is the coffee mover. Monday 2/28 Building is on full lockdown with only two entrances, each with searches and wanding upon entry. Long lines of citizens outside waiting all day to enter building as police continue to allow only one citizen to enter capitol after an other citizen leaves. Hearings are used as a trap. Anyone who goes to room 225NW is asked to leave the building immediately after they testify. People begin to ask for representative staffers to escort them around. No protesters or any citizens unaccompanied by police escort are allowed above the ground floor. Large number of state troopers and other police from around the state are inside. The family space holds strong despite attempts to close it down. The dome is OM-ed. Hot food is snuck in through windows. Drum circle still going strong since beginning of occupation. Tuesday 3/1 Building lock down continues. All first and some second floor windows are screwed shut, making them inoperable. Dane County Sheriff says restricting access puts public safety in jeopardy. Wisconsin State Employees Union sues the State of Wisconsin to enforce public access to the Capitol. Temporary restraining order from Judge Albert says capitol must be reopened, however state refuses to oblige. Snow fence placed on grounds to restrict crowd access to main entryways. Walker gives budget address, shuffling his audience supporters in through tunnels instead of through capitol doors. Anthill closes its Wellness Space due to unhealthy interactions with mystery crashers. Wednesday 3/2 Building lock down continues. Recently retired Democrat US Representative David Obey can’t get into the captitol. Due to lack of public access to the capitol, five Democratic Assembly Representatives move their desks outside in the snow in order to continue meeting with constituents. UWM occupation of Peck School of the Arts in Milwaukee starts (lasts 67 days, ends on May 7th). Kate H-C and KC re-pot plants for Assembly Democrats staff and plant seedlings for
Democratic senate staffers who have now been reassigned to Republican Senators while the Democratic senators remain out of state. Food donations from Regent Market Co-op continue to the outside solidarity sleepovers. “Bones” manages the outside food table with the help of Jeremy (Gator). Thursday 3/3 Senate formally authorizes arrest of the 14 Democratic Senators hiding out in Illinois. Police report finding dozens of rounds of live ammunition outside the Capitol. Circuit Court Judge Albert holds hearings about public access to capitol building. Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) says protesters caused $7.5 million damage to the capitol, claiming using blue painters tape on marble walls causes millions of dollars in damage! Democratic Representative Milroy tackled by police as he attempts to enter the capitol building. Mardi Gras Funeral Procession protest marches from campus to Capitol. 2008 Green Party U.S. VicePresidential candidate Rose Clemente attends. 5:45pm: hundreds of funeral march protesters rush the capitol from outside and gain entrance to the building but are held back and prevented from reaching the rotunda by a four-person deep wall of police. 6:00pm: Public access to the capitol court hearings has ended. Judge Albert rules that entry restrictions to the capitol must be lifted, effective immediately, but also states the building must close at its regular 6pm time, banning overnight stays. 6:15pm: Police Chief Tubbs says all protesters--both occupiers and funeral marchers--must leave immediately or risk arrest with (serious) contempt of court charges; many leave. Lacking trust, remaining protestors ask to see the actual court order before deciding whether to leave. 6:45pm: Case lawyer and former Wis. Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, arrives from the courtroom with Democrat Assembly Representatives to show and read the court order and speak to protesters about the case, declaring the court order a victory for protesters, saying “we won this battle!” Capitol Police Chief Tubbs and UW Police Chief Riseling also speak, promising the building will be open to the public beginning the next morning, 8am-6pm. 7:15pm: Protesters reply that now we need to speak amongst ourselves in a town meeting to decide how we will respond. Protesters take turns sharing perspectives. We all decide to leave, offering to gladly come back to remove all signs and clean marble walls for free, saving “$7.5 million.” 8:45pm: We march out, fists raised, proudly and gloriously singing “Solidarity Forever” into the waiting crowd of national and international media. 10:30pm: The remaining three protesters leave, ending the occupation. Drinks at Brocach Pub. Vegan protest food outside for protest campers. Friday 3/4 8am-8:30am: DOA releases new, expanded list of banned items to capitol building and all entrances closed except for two. Everyone entering is still searched and wanded. Hundreds protest inside
Occupation of the State Capitol | timeline
building, leaving by 6pm. International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 7 announce $7.5 million damage estimate is baloney and offer to clean up marble walls for free! Archive of signs moves to city building on MLK, Jr. Blvd. People can view and take signs. Jesse Jackson speaks at rally. Saturday 3/5 Two rallies with Michael Moore, Michelle Shocked, many more. All protest signs removed from capitol. Sunday 3/6 8am: Silent protest yoga practice in rotunda begins. Democrat Senator Cullen meets with Walker’s Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes and Deputy Chief of Staff Eric Schutt to discuss coming back to Wisconsin. Thousands rally. Entire family space removed. Students protest Biddy Martin at UW. Monday 3/7 Historical Society supervises public viewing of protest signs taken down from capitol walls. The best, most aesthetic ones are taken for the archive. Few rally inside the capitol. Many circle with signs on the outside. Nurses union organizers consider a general strike. Tuesday 3/8 Protest signs still on view. Townhalls held outside of Madison about the BRB. International Women’s Day Rally! Sleeping on capitol lawn protest still going strong with help from homeless youth at night. Wednesday 3/9 Wis. Senate passes the BRB under questionable circumstances. Governor’s security forces make their presence known. During dinnertime, urgent calls rapidly spread throughout city by phone, text, facebook to rush the capitol, re-occupy the building and Assembly chamber due to last-minute attempts to pass the BRB tonight. Thousands converge on the capitol instantly, within the hour, but police refuse admittance. Various doors, windows, continually fly open briefly and a few gain entry before they are slammed shut again. Protest marchers circle the inner and then outer rings of the square, forcing cars to drive behind at walking speed. Instead of anger, drivers honk the familiar rhythm, “This is what Democracy looks like!” Citizens climb through windows to get in. Eventually building is compromised enough that police give up, retreat to third floor, leaving doors and lower levels open, police-free, and everyone gains entrance. People had grabbed bags of fruit, other food to share as they rushed from their homes. Capitol tour guide counter immediately turns into food buffet table. Mass production of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches begins, Ians Pizza arrives. Food is flowing again. Re-occupation is effective, thanks to a flash-mob and door holders. Some protesters stay all night. Dozens of cars circle outer ring of square for hours, protest honking. Town crier stands on 15’ snowbank at top of State St. calling the news, inviting all into the capitol. Thursday 3/10 High school and middle school students walk out, join protest at Capitol. Police enter Capitol with tactical gear. 80-100 protesters inside the assembly
foyer. Those with cameras asked to go inside to press area. Police “sweep” up protestors. Madison Police Chief not allowed inside, nor Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jr., nor many Democratic legislators, despite needing to be on the floor for the 11am Assembly session. Some Democratic legislators only gain access by crawling through windows. They bang on locked Assembly doors, fearing Republicans will rush in and vote. Assembly passes BRB bill. Republicans are shamed by the public from the viewing galleries and press area. Take back Wisconsin march to Capitol. Wisc. Eye cameraperson told by the police to move camera away from the entrance of the assembly chamber. OZ Zine call-outs begin! Friday 3/11 Last day of viewing and taking signs from archive of those removed from Capitol walls. Historical Society keeps some for archive, Bev Richey takes the rest to Milwaukee. Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) P.O.W.E.R. (People Organizing Wisconsin for Education and Worker’s Rights) walk from Milwaukee to Madison. Gov. Walker signs BRB. Saturday 3/12 14 Democrates “We are Wisconsin”-Day of Action. Tony Schultz/Joel Greeno: Farmer Labor Pull Solidarity Tractorcade “Pull Together.” There were 50 tractors in the largest rally in Wisconsin history. 200,000 people attend. Timeline compilation from a variety of sources.
The Revolution was and is being televised by hundred of independent producers and social network activists from all over the country. WYOU, the only community television station in Madison Wisconsin, is in the process of developing a program to not only preserve as much as possible of the digital media for the enlightenment of futures generation but to make it available to independent producers interested in making documentary right now! If you like to be part of that project please contact Luciano@brazenvideoproductions.com. You can also sample some of the great moment of this historic time by going to Vimeo.com/brazenvideo.
Activism vs. depression
with all the drumming, chanting, singing, signs, etc. I stayed that night to listen to the meeting of the Joint Finance Committee, during which the Republicans February 16-26 / Felix Bunke would not discuss the stripping of collective bargainWhen I started attending the early rallies, they were ing rights at all. Now I really knew what we were up quite emotional for me, because it was a confrontation against, since it was clear they were not interested in W E E K of the despair I was feeling about our country, our state, any sort of dialogue and were determined to railroad our economy, and even my own personal issues. I betheir radical agenda over the rest of us, even in spite gan to feel the power of action and solidarity, a feeling of the law, tradition, and basic human decency. It was that would continue to grow over the following weeks then that I understood the importance of occupying as it seemed like people were finally starting to “get the Capitol and decided to stay. That was reinforced by it.” This was the kind of hope that checking a box by a the testimony. Citizen after citizen, several who were candidate’s name, no matter how charismatic, can never tearing up, testified about how severely the bill would deliver, that can only come about through people living affect them and how important it is to hang on to the up to their duties, not only as citizens, but as human be- basic human right that is collective bargaining, not only in regard to how it affects public employees, but also in February 19 regard to how it affects the people they serve in many ways. I listened into the night until I started to nod off. I balled up my coat as a pillow and plunked down on the marble in a hallway on the third floor for my first of eleven consecutive nights in the Capitol. The following days and nights were incredible, as we developed our own functioning community in the Capitol, essentially a sort of temporary autonomous zone, complete with an information station, a food station, a medic station, a family area for parents to take children for a while, and even a small lending library, a sort of extension of the Madison Infoshop. We were basically creating the type of society we wanted to see right there in the Capitol itself, and I certainly hope that people remember this and continue on with that spirit to recreate those networks of cooperation, sharing and solidarity in the larger society. We can create the cooperative society we want to see without having to kowtow to February 24 February 25 our mooching, parasitic corporate rulers, who could stand to participate in the “shared sacrifice” themselves. I think that, like me, a lot of people were really ready for something like this and just needed someAbove right: 10,776 ings and insisting on building decent lives thing to “plug into.” People who before people send personal and societies for themselves. My despair wouldn’t have dreamed of being active like emails of support to Wis- would be progressively destroyed and rethis were ready to burst and needed just one consin via MoveOn.org, placed by a sense of purpose, action, pride and more prick. Even an introvert like me ended up being which are printed and solidarity from what I was seeing around me. a founding member of a group helping to keep the hung inside capitol. When John Nichols suggested those of us occupation going, which since has merged into what is at the outside rally go inside the Capitol to now the Autonomous Solidarity Organization. see what was going on in there, I did. At that point the We got into this mess because we’d been asleep far occupation was already one night old. I was impressed too long. I hope we never go back to sleep.
their families after the massive layoffs of Mercury Marine employees a couple years ago. All in all, my time in the capital as a whole was one of the most traumatic and life-changing experiences of my life. I’m sure we all feel like there is no turning back now, we cannot ever go back to our comfortable existence of relying on a mirage and thinking it is reality. We must continue to fight, to destroy the system and the world as we know it so that the light can shine on new growth, seeds that are just waiting for the right moment can germinate and break through the concrete. And we must continue to breathe. Because, like the Egyptian who wrote a letter that Tom Morello read on the capital steps said, “Breathe Deeply, Breathe Deeply Wisconsin, because Justice is in the Air!”
Left: Minnesota Vets for Peace joins a Monday rally. Below Left: The food station, with food donated from around the world. Below: Forward Marching Band joins a Friday rally.
Olive Lewinski Albanese
The memories: Playing Tai Chi on the ground floor in the middle of the rotunda in the middle of the night, my audience of cops watching from the eight hallways, people leaning over the edge of the first floor railing. It was awesome, a beautiful place to play. One cop clapped when I was done. The night the firefighters slept over, (or not slept). One of the firefighters was making a ruckus on the ground floor after the 1:00am designated quiet time, causing lots of laughter among the bystanders. “WOOOOO!!” (Laughter, shushes) “WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? WHY ARE PEOPLE SLEEPING? IF YOU WANT TO SLEEP, GO HOME! WE NEED TO PARTY!!!” He was walking around with a group of three other firefighters who were trying to calm him down, which he wasn’t having. I introduced myself and suggested that we go up to the testimony room on the third floor, which was open all night and needed people like us to go testify on how this bill would affect our lives. He was very reluctant, wanting much more to be loud and wake people up to have a party, but he eventually came upstairs with me and the other firefighters, making lots of noise and causing general distractions on the way up. In the testimony room he quickly became quiet and was too shy to speak in front of the 15-20 people in there, although he wasn’t in the least bit uncomfortable speaking up to thousands of sleeping strangers. I stayed in the testimony room till early morning, listening to the testimonies of dozens of individuals who spoke so clearly, surely, from their hearts, about their worries, about themselves, their families, friends and people they don’t even know who will be adversely affected by the budget repair bill. Many of the testimonies made me cry. I felt such a deep respect for everyone who worked up the courage to speak: the
February 21-23 /
firefighters, the union organizer (Ed Sadlowski woop!), the workers, the students, the Madison native studying at UT Austin who didn’t want Wisconsin to turn into a scarier version of Texas, the woman who came from Detroit. I cannot do justice to my memories by listing them here, the speeches were so heartfelt, so courageous and honest and beautiful. I finally worked up the courage to deliver my testimony. I talked about my friend Patty, a grade school teacher in Fond du Lac, who was receiving a considerable amount of harassment from Walker supporters in her community. In her school the teachers were openly crying daily in their classes because of their fear of losing their homes over this, being the sole supporters of
Tai chi in the capitol
pending on what stage of the disease the individual is in. In this case, we were able to February 17 - March 3 / Brian Lazorik address the issue before it became a life threat, but the Street Medics practice in environments that are signs [things I can observe without information from unstable. This means constantly assessing potential my patient] and symptoms [things the patient tells me] dangers and being prepared to take swift, if sometimes were certainly pointing towards that possibility. “yesyesyesyesgigglesyesyes.” [possible symptom] Assessment: Broadly defined, tools for identification of situation “Did your parents come with you? Do you need to Sign: Information we can see tell someone you Symptom: Information passed on to us from the patient are going upstairs?” Preventative Medicine: Something we can do to make [physical safety, preless future work for ourselves ventative medicine for family member: simple, action to minimize health risks. It mental health, preinvolves having an awareness of our surroundventative medicine Right: for occupation: panic Street medics. ings and environmental risks (like a Wisconsin winter, or slippery marble floors) and comat lost children] municating clearly with people who may need “No, my mom is assistance. Somesleeping over there, february 20 times all it takes are we wanted to be Z Lula Haukeness somewhere else. She a few deep breaths, accurate assessments and a was okay with that. We can find her in the morning.” few simple supplies to avert a On the way up to the medic station [treatment: medical crisis. exercise], I collected my patients’ history. They were As a medic inside the three freshmen from east high school, and they had capitol, I would often get been up at the protests lots of times. They were pros. information passed on to me I had to remind them that it was 11:30pm at night as from people I didn’t know they started to chant “Tell me what democracy looks about individuals that may like.”[preventative medicine: mental health]. When we need our support. One night, arrived at the medic station, I informed them that I I was informed of a group of would look for the neon bright fuzzy socks, initiating a young women shivering on fit of giggles that only escalated [possible sign(smile): the ground floor [potential delirium, possible treatment for mental health] as I pulled six pairs of neon socks from the depths of the Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily hypothermia]. I found them box. While they debated the merits of each pair in Signs: shivering, teeth chattering, pale skin, wet socks, puddle of water, high-pitched tones, I found the last pair of space giggles(is it just their age? Might it also be delirium?). blankets for them to use. It was a hard decision for Symptoms: really cold, shivering more. each, but eventually sock selections were made. Then Treatments : food, exercise, movement, insulation(blankets, buddy heat), I remembered to grab them some power bars [treatfuzzy socks(physical/mental health), movement to first floor. ment: feed ‘em] I suggested they lay down their coats as a mat and that I would place the space blankets on top of them Above: Mom of near a water fountain, standing around with their socks in their hands, shivering, teeth chattering, with pale skin, and tuck them in[treatment: insulate from ground and three honors standing in a puddle [scene assessment, signs]. use dry blankets]. I asked if there was anything else Democratic “Good evening. My name is ___, and I work with I could do for them, asked them to check in with the Sen. Lena medic station in the morning [my mental health] and Taylor (one of the first aid team. Can I help you out?’ [introduction, consent for treatment] then left to continue my rounds, passing out water the 14 Dems “We’re really cold. Our feet got dirty on the way over, bottles [preventative medicine: dehydration] and asking who fled to and so we washed our socks in the water fountain. if there was anything people needed. When I passed Illinios) by Giggles. It was a bad idea, because now I’m shivering the three young women a little while later, they were making a more. Giggle.”[history, symptom] sleeping underneath the space blankets, cuddled thank you “Its much warmer on the first floor,” I respond. “If you together with smiles on their faces. Tinfoil blankets with display to come up to the first aid station, I can get you some neon bright socks, peace signs and hearts decorating decorate her socks and some bedding. Does that sound like a good them, amidst a patchwork of people, all resting [mental office door. plan?” [preventative medicine: hypothermia, cold, flu, health], and looking forward to another day. informed consent]. Hypothermia is a weather related Brian Lazorik is with the Madison Community Wellillness which can present in many different ways deness Collective (MadCWC).
Saturday is protest day More than just a protest Saturdays: February & march
February / Robin Lee
I save every Saturday as protest day. I drive in from Milwaukee and spend the entire day at the capitol protesting, talking with people and taking photos. I have hundreds of photos of the protest marches. Some of them I post on Facebook and others I will organize and post later. I keep all my “real friends” and Facebook friends updated everyday concerning the Madison situation. I am a social worker in Milwaukee. If my patients get cut off of Badgercare
This is more than just a protest. This is a revolution. This is not about the problem. It’s about finding a solution. -This is much more than just chanting. This is raising our voice. It’s not just raving and ranting, it’s protecting our right of choice. -It isn’t about getting out of school, or getting off from work. It’s about showing we have more power, than one dictating jerk. -This is more than just a rally. This is history in the making. People’s rights won’t die without a fight. Freedom’s fruits not ripe for the taking. -Sure, the state of the state is suffering. Anette Hansen
Left: Impromtu childcare by a local artist.
they will not get access to the medical care or medicines they need. Also, most of my patients receive Food share and without it they will not have access to food. I give time, money and information to the Madison protests and it has made my weekends very different. I will continue to provide whatever assistance I can until the very end. In addition, I inform my co-workers concerning the “current functional status” of the protest. State government was usually very dull and not on my radar screen but now that is no longer the case.
But we won’t let it suffer more. Our lives will not be decided, in meetings behind closed doors. -This isn’t about just Madison, it’s about America home of the free. This is not about the present its about the future yet to be. -This isn’t about the problem. This is about the solution. This is more than just a protest. This is a revolution.
Above (closeup) and Above Left: Thousands vow to support a general strike and sign up. Left: “Bones.”
Vegan protest food
Global donations of Ian’s pizza has kept many capitol protesters nourished, but one group was feeling left out – the vegan and vegetarian community. The vegetarians don’t eat meat, of course, and many don’t eat cheese. The vegans eat neither. Meanwhile, Boston, MA, resident (and vegan) Hillary Rettig was avidly following the protests but wondering about those same vegans and vegetarian protesters. Inspired by the Ian’s Pizza story, she contacted Madison-based protester and vegan Dan Nordstrom and suggested a similar donation program featuring vegan food. “It made sense,” says Nordstrom. “All Wisconsinites may be cheeseheads, but not all Wisconsinites eat cheese.” The local vegan and vegetarian community immediately embraced the idea. Lynn Pauly, co-director of Madisonbased Alliance for Animals, and organizer of the Simply Vegan campaign responsible for the familiar vegan bus ads, offered her group’s PayPal account for donations, and Madison-based
I started hunger striking on Sunday, February 26th because at that time I was fasting every Sunday anyway. So during the days in the capitol leading-up to Sunday, I wondered what it would be like to turn my weekly one-day fast into a long-term hunger strike as a form of protest. I knew hunger striking was a tricky strategy which, if taken to it’s furthest end, would lead to serious consequences or else having your “bluff” called. Being confined in the capitol reinforced the idea for me, though, because I saw that it could function as a point of interest for the media who are always looking for a new angle. In a sense I was aware that I was going out on a limb, but I guessed if the confinement in the capitol continued indefinitely a hunger strike might gain momentum stepping-up the pressure and highlighting the seriousness of our protest. I also thought hunger striking could work as a kind of metaphor for the imbalanced austerity Republicans are imposing on working families. During the short length of my strike, two more people said they were considering
Right: A call goes out for a PA system. Miles arrives with one and the People’s Mic is born.
February 26 - March 3 / Xavier Leplae
February 17 - March 3 / Dan Nordstrom
Above: Protesters wake to a morning spiral symphony performance.
vegetarian restaurant The Green Owl Cafe as well as Mother Fool’s Coffee House agreed to not only fulfill the orders, but provide discounts, deliveries and donations. Over several weekends Vegan Protest Fuel volunteers provided over a thousand dollars worth of nutritious, delicious food to protesters on the square. The group continues to accept donations at www.veganprotestfuel.com and is reaching out to protesters in Texas, Michigan, Indiana, and several other states.
joining. If the containment in the capitol had continued and they had joined me, momentum might have caught on and we may have grown to a sizeable group. When people voluntarily decided to leave the capitol I decided to quit because I didn’t think the strategy would have the same impact without the confinement and the hold we were able to have on the media. The other more personal reason I quit after 7 days was because my immune system had weakened and I was suffering from a case of bronchitis from a couple weeks earlier. It resurfaced, making me extra vulnerable. I also had a bout of kidney pain which worried me.
February 17 - march 3 / Amy Mondloch Jackson State, Kent State, Selma, Alabama, Sterling Hall, Seattle--the list is endless. These are places in the U.S. where activists have met violence and sometimes where we activists have invoked violence looking for peace. Here in Wisconsin during the capitol occupation Charity Schmidt of the TAA and her fellow organizers worked hard on multiple angles in hopes that our capitol would not be added to the list of places in which people have been arrested, injured, and even killed February 23 in the struggle. Calling on the Grassroots Leadership College (GLC) was one of those angles she pursued. It was early evening on Thursday, February 17th when I got that first request for the GLC to provide nonviolence trainings at the capitol. Things were moving fast. People were tired, anxious, trying hard to keep track of all the details as things seemed to change by the second in our newand-growing capitol community. It was apparent that I needed a strong trainer who knew me and who I knew so well that we could read each others faces to know what would happen next. Luckily, that person was there, my friend Jeff. We knew each other well enough that planning that first training took less than 30 minutes. We did two trainings that night in the capitol basement and provided the most basic of information about nonviolent civil disobedience to about 40 people. Over the next few days that hastily scribbled agenda became a real curriculum, thanks to folks like Rebecca Krantz, A.B. Orlik, and more than 20 others who brought their knowledge of nonviolence, meditation, training, and facilitation together. Together we reached thousands of people and had, I think, a key role in keeping the capitol safe. Now we’re out of the capitol, at least for the time being. But the questions that puzzled us throughout our occupation remains: What do we as a community mean by nonviolence? What have we learned from all those before us at Jackson State, Kent State, Selma, Seattle, and down the street at Sterling Hall and the rest of the UW campus? One of the statements that many of our trainers heard from unprepared people in the capitol when
they asked if the people were ready in the case of violence was, “I’m not violent.” As this struggle continues on, and I believe it will for years to come, it is essential for us to think deeper. I’ve been deeply committed to nonviolence for my 20+ years of activism, and yet it is still hard when I see the pain of others being dragged by police and losing their jobs, their housing, their ability to survive. It’s not always enough to simply say, “I’m not violent.” I have to steady myself, practice the tools, center, do whatever it is that I need to do to keep calm and to operate out of love. I hope that you, my fellow activists, each do whatever you need to deepen your capability to remain centered, calm, peace-filled.
Even then, even when we remained calm and centered, we still need to be prepared for violence. Ghandi wasn’t violent. King wasn’t violent. Malcolm X had renounced violence. Freedom riders, many of those protesting Vietnam, Iraq, and all the other wars, most of those in the Battle of Seattle weren’t violent. The State was violent. How are we prepared for the violence that the State may perpetrate on us? Meeting State violence with our own makes little sense if for no other reason than they have bigger weapons and more training in how to use them - not only as individuals, but as a force. We need something stronger, some might call it love. Some might simply consider it the power of community. The question is how to grow that power, how to use it to our best advantage. The work of the Grassroots Leadership College goes on. You can check it out and get involved by visiting: www.grassrootsleadershipcollege.org or calling 608441-0085
Notes from a marble floor dream journal WEEK
SUNDAY: February 27 / Benjamin Pierce
The sit-in is now a self-adjusted community, but not sustaining because food donations from all over the world, including Antarctica (I am serious!) keep us going. The capitol is likely to be cleared by main force versus peaceful protest -- for now. The officers will do their job -- but wait for an unprecedented statement of support for what we are doing from those who have to remove us. Feb. 28: Today, the decision had to be made to try to occupy the capitol, despite an announcement that the building would close at 4pm for cleaning, even though we have been cleaning and maintaining it ourselves. This was only a pretext to clear the building that Walker and company cannot close as long as there is public business going on. There was a lot of organizing and honest discussion from the day before, but also a lot of rumors, confusion, and waves of doubt and confidence, and sometimes, in my assessment, overconfidence. It was always clear that some people would stay to be peaceably arrested, and that some might engage in less legally peaceful methods, such as going limp and being dragged away. (Not arguing the morality of the law here, it will get you in more trouble, potentially, than getting cuffed and walking away.) I had talked myself into getting peaceably arrested to point out what a dickhead Walker is being. We were now restricted to the ground floor and first floor (second level) and the police presence was heavy. Though they are on our side, they were clearly ready to move. At the same time, Union heads and some lawyers assured us that the police chief and sheriff’s department were sympathetic to us. In short, by about noon today, it looked as though the main project was a mass civil disobedience which would see the building evacuated, the activists not much worse for the experience, Walker’s legal authority challenged and scrutinized, and his reality as a would-be dictator put into real perspective. At 1:30pm I met up on the second floor with a fellow named Trevor. I had crashed next to him last night, given him a tarot card reading and invited him to my domicile if worse came to worse. In short, we agreed we had each others’ backs when we went down to the ground floor at 3pm for the meeting that would count down to the face-off hour. There were a lot of impassioned speeches, many for not giving up our house. I knew we could not resist the police if it came to an encounter, that civil disobedience was really a way to shape the meaning of our exit, but there was talk of staying. It had a tone I did not like at points but I felt such things could be sorted out the
next day, as I have a lot more confidence in the community that has grown up in the occupation than only one variance of vision. Rep. Brett Hulsey got up, making it clear that he spoke for other Assembly persons. He said at 4pm he was going to make one of the most difficult decisions of his life, which was to walk out the door. He was asking others to do the same. He would return to work the next day, as should the protesters. He was barely allowed to speak. I was saddened by that. I realized we had enough momentum that we would continue to gain strength in our movement whether or not we were occupying the building when Walker is eventually recalled. More than anything, I realized I had to stand by Rep. Halsey, since he had been nearly shouted down from within our community. Had I thought there would be a lack of people engaging in civil disobedience, I might have decided to stay that course, but I knew it would continue without me. Leaders of the community did what they could to address the anger in the room while holding onto their own option to stay. Upon hitting the outdoor air, I got some muchneeded gatorade and pizza where Ian’s had a stand set up. There was a huge cheer at the Hamilton St. exit. We wondered what had happened, and I had to find whether Trevor exited the building or not, as I had promised him lodging. There was already a human ring formed around the capitol so no one could be smuggled out by law enforcement unobserved. In circumnavigating the building, I looked up into Gov. Walker’s now-occupied and lit office. He was pacing around. I waved at his three windows while I passed and people shouted up at him. Best he get used to it while he is yet so employed. Finally, I saw people who knew Trevor who said he was still inside. I found a couple of Sheriff Department members who were orbiting the building and asked what the status of things was. They had determined there were no violations and had decided to let people stay the night, contrary to the orders or request they had received from Gov. Walker. Indeed, some of the sheriffs took off their uniforms and joined the protestors. This has a lot to do with why there were no arrests made. We knew that a few nonuniformed officers were present to be arrested, but we had not anticipated this. If you don’t get it yet, then history is about to leave you behind. This is not just a sleepover in a marble building. The drums and the pizza bought from around the world, the level of respect and organization that have been the muscle of this community, and the resonant response around America and the world that makes it a movement, are not the end statement of what is going on here. Even if tomorrow’s news qualifies some of the details about what I know to essentially be true, it will lead to the same conclusion: the revolution has begun.
Protesters hold capitol monday: February 28 / A Peoples’ Movement
A democratic coalition of protestors who refused to leave the Madison, Wisconsin capitol building achieved two significant victories today. The group, A Peoples’ Movement held the space overnight again, despite plans to close the building at 4pm. And, Republican Senator Dale Schultz has reportedly dropped his support for Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. After an evening of competing strategies between protest leaders, A Peoples’ Movement began an independent move to occupy the capitol peacefully. After addressing the protestors inside the capitol, coalition members—with the help of drums and cowbells— lead the way to the north exit, one of the two entrances that were being used. People gathered at the doors, chanting, “Let them in” to encourage officers to let waiting protestors into the building. After 30 minutes at that entrance, they encountered Susan Riesling, chief of the UWMadison police department. She let them know that they were in no danger and would be allowed to remain February 27 in the building. Later in the evening, the crowd erupted yet again after hearing the rumor that Republican Senator Dale Schultz would vote against the bill. A Peoples’ Movement has been working out of the capitol for the last two weeks. “We have created a democratic coalition based on a horizontal, bottom-up model of collaboration,” says member Jorge Rodriquez. The group has facilitated town halls in the capitol over the last several days. Not all protestors agreed with the coalition’s strategy. Some unions attempted an orchestrated arrest spectacle, and despite professed commitment to maintain a presence in the capitol, began dispersing protesters gathered inside and outside the capitol. They hoped to tame what they feared could be a “chaotic” situation—which did not transpire because of the calm demonstrations. The groups promoting an abandonment of the capitol provided instructions for protestors to follow through with the staged arrests—to move to the first floor of the building and clear the ground floor. A Peoples’ Movement expressed dissent with this message and were strongly quieted by those on the microphone.
When the coalition was finally provided voice, spokeswoman Katrina Flores reminded the crowd “why we all were in the capitol, that this was our house, and that we should not retreat.” Cheers erupted from the gathered protestors. In the end, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs decided not to pursue the original staged arrest plan, letting protestors know that, “We have no intention of arresting peaceful protestors.” At the time of release, no arrests had been made inside the capitol. Even through peaceful organization, the coalition rarely had a place in official decision making. A designated group of representatives from select unions, police officials, and police liaisons met behind closed doors two hours after protestors were to have left the
Mary Jo Walters
building. The small contingent of A Peoples’ Movement following Chief Tubbs to the negotiation room were not allowed into the meeting, but they exerted pressure from outside the door. A police liaison asked coalition member Wajid Jenkins via text message from inside the meeting what their demands were. They replied, simply—to stay in the building until 8am Monday morning when the building reopens; that no one in the building would be arrested; and, that food and water be brought into the capitol. The People’s Coalition was alerted that their demands would be met and that they would be pleased with the outcome. Within an hour, this announcement was made to the protestors inside the capitol. They would be sleeping over yet another night. Besides attending horizontal leadership teach-ins, A Peoples’ Movement calls on Madison protesters to return on Monday and Tuesday to continue a strong presence in the capitol. Press release from A Peoples’ Movement, a group centered on democratic horizontal leadership that prioritized an anti-racist, feminist approach to the work it did as a part of the capitol occupation.
Below: Dinner is served.
Above: Serana Carter (right), co-founder of the Family Space in the Capitol. Above left: The Her family and Thistle prepare to parade through the capitol and to the rotunda for the scheduled 4pm storytime hour.
SUNDAY: February 27 / Benjamin Pierce The State Democrats are actually doing their job, as their entire party should have been doing at various points over the years. I have never seen an engagement more direct, more consistently on-point with the real issues. First, I have heard, off and on, about a week of testimony delivered in the public hearing room (which is what gives those of us sleeping in the capitol the legal right to do so)--and, periodically, people speaking up on the megaphone, people from all walks of life, all ages, all professions--it has NOT been all chanting and drums, whatever the media may make it seem--not by a long-shot. Bottom line: what I have been hearing from citizens in the testimony room or in the rotunda, I am also hearing from the Democratic assembly persons. Without February 25 a break in continuity, I have heard them speak not merely for, but in solidarity with the public who have spoken to them. By contrast, the Republican assembly persons are Donna Magdalina not taking Above: Procalls from their constituents, who are having to more testers and and more call the Democrats, whose lines are still open. constituents Governor Walker is an invisible but menacing presence, leave sticky not returning phone calls to his office except from the note mesAssembly republicans, coming and going under heavy sages of guard. He probably needs to these days. support on Keep in mind: I am not a party man. I still wait to and around see if the national or local democrats will rise to the Democratic standard set by this one group of their colleagues. They Rep. Brett stay on message, which is that there is a fundamental Hulsey’s assault on our rights in attempting to repeal collective office door in bargaining for public employees. They never give up the Capitol. this message that the attempt to repeal bargaining rights is an end-in-itself, and not properly a fiscal item, anyway. They never stop saying that the fiscal crisis is a pretext and no more. The Democrats are regularly and openly naming the Koch brothers as being far-tooinfluential billionaires and openly stating that they have bought our governor and quite possibly the Republican Party. They point out the bizarre things the governor is doing. They point out the distortions in the media portrayals he has been able to influence, and openly
state that he had a direct role in bringing in the admittedly very few agitators who have appeared as their allies.They report at length about how people will be impoverished, unemployed, even in danger of losing their homes based on the testimonies given. This group of Democrats has given up the old behavior of pretending there is simply a disagreement going on with a few misunderstandings going on in it. They are admitting that the situation is deeply fucked up, and that our rights are under a direct and naked attack. These are terms they have used. By contrast, the Republicans on the floor give another, profound testimony. They will not look speakers in the eye when the gravest concerns are openly voiced and repeated. They have no direct reply to any of what I have said above. They continue to insist that the budget crisis is real, and ignore every fact cited to the contrary. They will not even directly address the continual assertion that this bill (read it if you have not!) is jam-packed with items that are not fiscal. They will say a few words about theatrics and the need to get back to business. They will not address the fact that they have become very hard for their own constituents to reach. They will not acknowledge that a large number of Wisconsinites have come to the capitol to express these concerns. One assembly woman spoke of how their behavior has changed. She said that many of them could once be worked with but that there are many signs that they can no longer speak for themselves, though they may have grave doubts about what they are doing and who they have chosen to follow. In their own way, they give an equally astonishing and compelling testimony. Recall that on one of the earliest statuses I protested since this began, that I myself witnessed the Assembly, last Friday, try to pass legislation before the Democrats had arrived, and at an earlier time than officially posted (which is illegal). They retracted this extraordinary breech of protocol and law only after an impassioned and genuinely shocked series of protests by the three Democrats present. This has not been put off as a mere misunderstanding. It has been pointed out on the floor, in the most open and direct terms, time and again. The Republicans have had nothing to say but that they “screwed up” but that “we have both screwed up” -- and “can we please get on with business?” Business is just what they have in mind and I do not mean small and local. They say nothing more about what they did and are doing. The Republicans do not appear to be doing a sort of grey “business as normal.” It is all-too-clear that someone now influences them deeply and uniformly. Amongst the protesters, there is a lot of work going on to determine what can be verified about the Koch brothers. I am checking in with this about once a day. Watch the newspapers -- there may be some things coming out in the mainstream papers soon or already. Editor’s note: Check out www.alecexposed.org
How’d we wind up here? Tuesday: March 1 / Kevin Joseph Schiesser
“Que bizarre!” frequently runs through my mind while making laps around the capitol rotunda. One time around and I’ve already seen familiar faces, waltzed to the local string band, joked about the maddening drum-beat, and had a slice of pizza to boot. I am casual in my meandering around the building. It’s all very fun and very serious at the same time. I like to think of myself as a night-shifter. I take care of business during the day, filling spiritual needs and responsibilities at work and home. I return to my home in the dome every evening. That’s in contrast to the regulars, who go several days without glimpsing sunlight. I bring stories from the outside, an update on February 25 the weather (still cold), and the morning paper’s headline (Longest Sleepover Wisconsin has Ever Seen Continues at Dismay of People in Power). It’s both refreshing and exhausting. Five hours of sleep, tops. The sleeping gets better as the days go by and the body adapts to the lights, the noises, the floor, etc.. By the end I am so comfortable that I am out like a light and having very pleasant dreams of union strikes and walking Walker out in shame. My interactions with the police: exchanging hand-shakes, jokes, pats on the shoulder, goodmornings, smiles, and the like. The congeniality of the situation overwhelms me, more than the late nights spent with the medics or in meetings figuring out the elusive “What’s next?” I walked away from the capitol every morning with a hazy joy, then sitting down for a meal with house-mates, I would relive the last 24-hours. Like a jet lagged traveler, something was always lost in translation. Suddenly the rules change (and they do change by the minute, so look out!). The doors to our home are shut, and the family is divided. Many of us are locked outside, and supply lines are being exhausted. I’m worried about folks inside, disgusted with the DOA, dissatisfied with the response of our elected officials, and overall distraught with the situation. After a while I came to feel important and needed on the inside. What right do they have to divide us? Well, let’s have a solidar-
ity sleep-out on the capitol lawn. Everyone who wanted to participate in the occupation, could. We set up camp outside the building, a Walkerville if you will. Much thanks to the Madison community for the swell of support: blankets, sleeping bags, gloves, hats, sweaters...chili, coffee, love, oatmeal, cough-drops, hand warmers, peanut butter and jelly, SUNDAY: FEBRUARY 27 I have heard that some officers walked off the job to join the protesters. That is more surprising in terms of timing to me rather than in terms of the fact. The critical nature of this showdown may have moved their time-table up. I knew there were off-duty officers who had shown up to be arrested. This is a movement in which the police are in solidarity with the rest of the movement from the beginning and now we see it. hummus, all so wonderful. And to the relentless Wisconsinites who endured the bitter-cold wind, sleet, and snow. Solidarity, brother and sister. At this point I’m running entirely on spirit. There’s no other explanation. And we begin to approach
Mary Jo Walters
the bizarre. An organic uprising. People assuming roles; artists, medics, child-care professionals, event planners, information distributors, reporters, non-violence experts, teachers, to name a few. The words “selfpolicing” are being used like they deserve a hyphen. Human-decorated posters, banners, and pizza boxes are thoughtfully held in place with blue painters tape. They cover the walls, the railings, the floor, all over the building. They are on top of the austere marble exuding warm and homey feelings. Singing, shouting, yelling, chanting, it’s like nothing I have ever seen before. The extent to which I sense we are all related to one another is off the charts.
Above: Another dozen pizzas arrive.
Above: Family time.
might be considered a descendant of the old Northern European “Thing,” a general assembly of all community Tuesday: March 1 / RanDomino members. Even hundreds of years after the Thing has ceased to formally exist on a wide scale the idea of the I am one of the people who slept and lived in the general assembly is powerful. I saw it spontaneously reWisconsin State Capitol building. We did not do this vived in the form of thousands of citizens in the rotunda because of free speech or as a protest against the elimigiving and hearing testimony and speeches. nation of the public worker unions, but because it is We are descendants of barbarians and pioneers, our house, the People’s House, and we mean that quite people who prefer pride, dignity, respect, and good literally. life over imposed safety and insulating comfort (as opWisconsin has posed to the stated reason for the restrictions on enterhad a functioning ing the capitol, which was that it is ‘for our safety’). We social democracy despise others attempting to place restrictions on us, for over 100 years because we can protect ourselves just fine, thank you. It based on respect and citizen partici- was Zapata that said, “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees,” but those words might have come pation. We expect from any of our mouths. We don’t accept disrespect our politicians (such as the humiliating security checkpoint to enter to be accessible the capitol), and don’t respond favorably to threats. We and accountable. consider ourselves to be kings, because we have fought We expect our and worked for it; and, all being of the same status, government to Anette Hansen expect to be treated equally highly. be responsive. We consider Walker’s actions to be an attack on WisWe expect to be able to keep a close eye on it. The consin itself. Our system of social democracy is as much Capitol building embodies this: Just as the government a part of our culture as beer, and for the same reason. belongs to the people (and we consider “democracy” Walker and his ilk have declared war on Wisconsin, and to literally mean “the people rule”), the Capitol itself this is not just a war on unions or workers in isolation, belongs to us. We have built ourselves a marble palace but a national war. because we are the rulers. ThereThis is neoliberalism trying to do to Wisconsin what fore it is unacceptable to have any it has done to so many other countries, driven by restrictions on entering our house, organizations like the World Trade Organization, which just as you would be offended if we gave a bloody nose to in Seattle in 1999 when the government set up a security movements for workers, the environment, and social checkpoint to enter your own justice transcended their usual single-issue focus and home’s front door. came together in The Wisconsin the Movement of system of democracy march 3 Movements. That is a synthesis of many same alliance is factors. Much has spontaneously and already been said of the rapidly reconstructEuropean ‘48ers and ing itself in WisconGerman socialists who sin (which is part came to the existing of the reason the German communities occupation went as in Wisconsin and influwell as it did; it openced the Progressive erated in the same era. Horizontal manner Wisconsin is still as protest camps, largely rural, and the using organizational pioneer ethos of self-retechniques honed liance and independent dce rollin over the last 15 capability is strong. We years). After we stop hunt deer to maintain that frontier ethic, for neoliberalism here example. As with every good person, that we are going to self-reliance turns into generosity when hunt it down and there is a surplus: What’s important is the defeat it everywhere community, not personal wealth. it lurks in the world. The Wisconsin idea of government Z Lula Haukeness
Energy at the capitol TUESDAY: March 1 / Kerry Beheler & Donna
I don’t think the energy in the capitol will ever be the same. It has changed for all, and in a good way. It is now truly our house. I think that is why I cried every time I was there. The energy was harnessed, it was manifested. Some of my DNR warden buddies, notoriously stoic, who had to be there “guarding”, said they felt February 25 the honesty flowing. One said it was like being at a revival meeting! I did not ask them if they were supporters of Walker. That seemed irrelevant. What was relevant, was they were in awe and support of the people’s positive energy and good vibe. One of them even said to me, “now I know what a good vibe is”! As a protester in the building, that’s what it felt llike was happen-
ing with all the guards. You could feel that from many and see it in their eyes. Although many tried to prevent showing this so you couldn’t be sure, but I highly suspect most of those people also were supportive. My friend who works for a democratic representative entered an elevator with two stoic troopers. When the doors closed, they thanked her profusely and even hugged her! When the doors opened,
Left: Protestesters who can’t sleep inside the Capitol due to the lockdown form a winter tentless encampment on the Capitol lawn. Right: 24/7 food and first aid station for those sleeping outside.
Mary Jo Walters
they walked out as if nothing had happened. Some guards acted like friends towards us and some had a more reserved and guarded appearance concerning their opinions. All were friendly and completely professional. Notice how I came to call them guards. They are definitely guards now and it feels like we are in an extreme police state or a prison when in the building because there are many more police than citizens everywhere you look.
It seemed like years ago Thursday: March 3 / Jeremy Ryan
Above: Children’s art, created in the Capitol. Right: Autonomous Solidarity Organization, and also the infamous Cuddle Puddle and Drum Circle members.
Feb. 14, 2011, Valentines Day, the day it all began. I was feeling washed out and voiceless, and I was recovering from surgery. I also had a little bit of hope, having just overcome cancer. I watched the news and saw people protesting at the capitol. I decided to go, figuring I could meet some nice people. Had you told me I would become engulfed in it, I wouldn’t have believed you. I went to the capitol. I didn’t stay long, as my knee started hurting. I was not supposed to leave the house as I was in recovery from a very painful procedure. What I saw, what I felt, I couldn’t explain. Later on I found the word and found it everywhere: SOLIDARITY! It became more of a feeling than a word. What I also found was knowledge. People were glad to explain why they were there. A whole group of people were all fed up with Scott Walker. It was this
community feeling that drew me in. I wanted to know more, because there was only one thing I did know in the beginning. If you can get that many people together and they are all happy to talk to and see each other, you must be onto something. I came back every day. The protests became my life. The movement did. I soon knew more than I could ever imagine about what was going on and formed Defending Wisconsin PAC
to offer the movement more organization. At the time there were not any PAC’s aimed at recalling Walker. I saw a void. I was there Sunday night, Feb. 27, when Chief Tubbs told us all to leave and that we would be able to come back the next morning at 8am. I took his word, only living seven blocks away and having a sore back from sleeping on the cold marble floor. The next morning I woke up, headed back to the capitol, and found a large group of people gathered at the King St. entrance. They said the doors were locked and the police wouldn’t let them in. I left immediately and went to the U.S. District Courthouse to file a lawsuit. They locked the doors at 8am, meaning they never opened. By 10am I had a lawsuit in federal court. I went home that day and sent an e-mail to Mark Miller’s staff and asked if they would let me in for a legislative meeting. They agreed, so on Feb. 29 I was back in the capitol with a group of about 80 people. I refused to leave that day and stayed. On the way there I bought a netbook with a webcam. I remember reading that protesters were being beaten inside and of not knowing what was going on. I figured I would fill a void. I could offer people on the outside a way to know what was going on inside. The videos started on March 1, originally planned to only last until the capitol was opened again. Little did I know they would become a regular thing. I began filming in an attempt to communicate with the outside. One day they were starving us out, not allowing food in, so people snuck food in. I released a video and 800 people called the Capitol Police. That night we had Ian’s pizza. I brought people the real story of what was going on and it took off. The following few days were challenging. The police, at the orders of the Wis. Department of Administration (DOA), did everything they could to keep food out and waited for a judge to order us out. Finally, the order came that protesters had to leave. Had I known what I do now, I never would have left, but we made a group decision and at the time it seemed the best. I don’t know what it was about those few days but I do know one thing. I was forever changed, and forever inspired to do whatever I could, big or small, to stop Scott Walker and his band of tyrants long after the smoke settled and the majority went home.
Thursday: March 3 / Donna Magdalina
Is our liberty bell cracked again?
March / Joseph Richard Brewer / Madison Sanity is our liberty bell cracked again? such a bad time for us my friend did they put our rights on the block? well it is a good time to make them stop stop messing around with our rights and attacking our humanity we have been going the capitol round and round there is just not an open door to be found they have been sneaking those traitors off into the night through a tunnel I tell you it just isn’t right cheating and lying and frustrating liberty still we are keeping our cool is our liberty bell cracked again? is it time to recall a fiend? did he use some dirty tricks? and then give our liberty to his friends it is time to take back our rights and back the working person again we have been going the capitol round and round there is just not an open door to be found they have been sneaking those traitors off into the night through a tunnel I tell you it just isn’t right cheating and lying and frustrating liberty still we are keeping our cool is our liberty bell cracked again? this time we are at an end we have to defend our lives we have everything at stake fighting for our right to live our chance to work in peace we have been going the capitol round and round there is just not an open door to be found they have been sneaking those traitors off into the night through a tunnel I tell you it just isn’t right cheating and lying and frustrating liberty still we are keeping our cool
Since Tuesday, March 1st, when I re-entered the capitol, in order to get in you had to pass the eight outside police officers standing across and blocking the King St. doors. Then you entered a hallway and were subjected to 36 police officers standing there watching you empty your backpack for a search, remove all metal from your body, and be wanded. Actually, only one officer was inspecting your bag and one other officer was wanding. The other 34 were standing there watching those two officers at work and watching you be humiliated. Then you could go past the cordoned off area and enter the capitol. Guards everywhere in groups of 2-8 together throughout the entire building, even though protesters were contained on only the ground floor. In any location within the capitol you now see four - five officers and no citizens in every direction. Almost all citizens are in the outer ring of the rotunda and there are only about fifty of us. I’m standing in the outer rotunda on the first floor. The first picture is a typical view of how many police you see in every direction you look except they rarely entered the center area of the rotunda. Then I turned 90 degrees to my right and took the second photo. These are all the massive numbers of thugs and vicious criminals the 200 or so police officers in the building are guarding. Last night I’m guessing there were 50 protesters sleeping in the building. On Saturday, Feb. 26, when the counter-protesters arrived in town and both February 25 pro- and anti- Walker people were protesting and police were prepared for the violence that never happened, we had 70,000-100,000 people marching around the square, and 2000+ people inside the capitol building; yet Amber Solow no one was searched or wanded upon entry. Two police simply stood at the outside door of the capitol and watched each person enter one at a time. No searches. No wanding. Beginning this week, it has felt like a police state inside the capitol. Citizens were afraid to leave the capitol because there was no guarantee we would get back in if we left. Rules were changing day by day and hour by hour. There were no guarantees about anything or any stability. Police officers were kept uninformed about anything except their direct orders of the moment. Food was limited as no food was supposed to be coming in. Luckily the police inside were mostly friendly, kind, and simply fabulous. Despite this, I did feel like I was in prison for the last 3 days.
Left: Assembly Democrats move their desks outside during the building lockdown so they can continue to meet with constituents.
Goals of the protesters Thursday: March 3 / Deborah Mulligan
In the small buzz groups yesterday morning we discussed what the goals of the protesters were in holding the inside space. As Walker gives us more and more reasons to protest, it seemed necessary to share and to strategize. One comment that was well received in my group was to dress like a professional when you visit so that the protesters are not easily distinguished from the Walker supporters. It is important that the media show the diversity of folks who are there. One MSNBC
Above: Making “Our House” keys for protesters (see photo on page 2).
reporter searched out a nurse, a teacher, a tradesperson and a student for interviews. It is difficult to tell who, if anyone, is in charge. There is a negotiating team with union organizer support. There are various legal challenges inching their way through the courts. In addition to the one in state court there has been an action filed in Federal Court by a
small group and they are hoping for legal support and guidance. Volunteers are leading 12 step groups, yoga classes, keeping the food tables stocked and organized and cleaned. The street medics collective keeps the first aid station stocked and have been helping those with physical and mental health issues. There is a media table where folks are creating their own media on twitter and facebook and blogs. The first floor (not the ground floor) holds a hallway which has been beautifully set up as a Family space with toys and books and nap mats and loving playful staff, but depending on the cops, other folks may or may not be allowed to go up there without children. The rest of the 1st floor is not accessible, and the other floors are accessible only to attend hearings or meet with the legislative offices. Yesterday, a buddy system was created to give new comers a 5 minute tour and orientation to the People’s House. Teach-ins on democracy, union history, organizing and the bills are being planned. The folks who have been at it for 2 1/2 weeks are tired, and communication seems to be challenging in part because of the enormity and the enormous number of interests that are being compromised by Walker. I am growing weary of hearing the cops are on our side. I had some incredible connections with various officers, very human and respectful, perhaps even loving. One officer I met while dealing with an observers’ issue started to cry about how the budget would impact his family. Yes, it is their jobs on the line, but what if they made a war and nobody came? The cops have sworn to uphold the WI Constitution and that is clearly being violated in restricting public access to the building by the DOA. This violation is being enforced by the cops. For some, even if they feel badly, it is for overtime pay. What if the cops just said “no”? Would the National Guard be called out with rifles and bayonets? This mess has gone so far beyond union busting, it is about the very fundamentals of our social contract which holds us together as a democracy. I woke Donna Magdalina up this morning with my heart physically hurting in my body like I had lost a love. For all the brilliance and authenticity of the people there is a meanness to this mess that is just so incomprehensibly greedy and selfish and hateful that I can barely stand it. I still believe in non- violence and in our system of governmental balances, but I am angry at the great hurt we are suffering.
The Protest #2
February-March / Andrew Mazur Something happened here, near the Third Coast. Weeks of pure, humming sound Long, long thunder.
Left: Group sing in the rotunda.
Ugly in bed with Beautiful Spooning in a sleeping bag In an alcove off the rotunda. Dreaming chants and waking in shifts And with a knowing faith, Without second thought Adhering, with a fortitude and reckless dedication Befitting religion To a strategy
Echoes and shouts
Of bodies and sustained bursts of co-ordinated sound. It was too large to be ignored and thus Our shouts and slogans, Our interviews and the images of Our bodies Ringed or corralled or marching, singing, sitting, sleeping Were chased down and cut up.
march / Brett Mattison
Something Made palatable and passed around Allowing something to die Between the lens and the display long Before it gets to the editing bay Is transmitted But to whom, and What of our memories? What becomes of April? What happened here? I came to the capitol daily for the first month and a half and slept inside the capitol for seven nights. Both of these poems came from reworking pages of notes scribbled down from inside the capitol. Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts about this strange, surreal uprising in my hometown.
In every mansion on the hill, There is an urge to turn the page, start a new chapter in history. This chapter could wipe away the bloodstains covering the bruises and hide the gravestones from the innocent eyes of generations to come. This new beginning would be a triumph of the giants, the ultimate meeting of the minds. The echoes from the mansion Penetrated the dormant conscience of the collective, causing fists to rise and bullhorns to blare throughout the halls of a government that is bought and paid for. The shouts in the streets grew closer as the anger rising in the crowd reached the boiling point, a point where widespread violence was expected. The charlatans in the chamber were shocked when the masses did not take up arms or resort to physical tactics of any kind. The people stood as in assemblage, Redressing a grievance that loomed large. The right of collective bargaining.
Above: Family sleep over. Left: Madison knitters guild bitch and stich around the stairs.
Radical childcare Thursday: March 3 / China Martens
Working to create support for parents and children is one of my main forms of political activism. After reading reports of how the protesters had settled into a camp within the capitol building that included childcare, I wanted to find out more. I asked Ryan Harvey (who had written about the childcare station in his “Dispatches from the Madison Fight #3 for the Baltimore Indy Read-
Above: Family space sign hanging in the Capitol, with inset of detail close-up.
er) to put me in touch with an organizer. Mary Jo, a mother of three, active in the protests, responded to my query. Caretakers of young children will appreciate this: When I finally got voiceto-voice phone contact with Mary Jo she said that, ironically enough, she was having childcare issues at the moment. She couldn’t get to the capitol to get her press pass on time this morning (she’s with radio), and now the kids are throwing flour all over the kitchen floor because she is on the phone with me. “Gotta go, China, call me back!” In a bit she called back and rushed out this informal interview over the telephone. Day-byday the situation is changing. These are the typed notes from our chat on Thursday March 3, 2011: Mary Jo said that people/families are already in crisis in their daily lives. Being at the capitol and holding space like this puts them in further crisis. Camping out in the capitol building for almost 20 days is creating stress. Authorities only let one person go in and out of the building at a time – it’s not clear to families if they can get back in. It’s been three weeks and they are regrouping. This is going to be a long battle. Childcare is important space and (she designates it as) stress-free space! They were asked to move yesterday (March 2nd). The childcare space had been targeted since they were
the only ones on the second level. It was started by mothers looking for a quiet space to relax and recoup away from the main action. The police told them they must leave for the building to be cleaned. When I asked if they were still in the building, Mary Jo replied, “OH YES - we are still there and we are not moving. If you move – you’re done!” Mary Jo is holding space for children who will be affected by this bill and for their parents who have come to protest. Her vision is to lobby for families. How did (what Mary Jo has dubbed) “The North Wing Family Center” start? First a friend R, started by getting meals for youth and putting their art and other flyers on the walls. That helped change the space and set the tone. Others started hanging murals and banners and stuff. L. had a baby. They put up signs for childcare. Two moms, S. and L. just sat with each other, and then L. spent the night. The next day Mary Jo came. She asked what the mothers wanted and together they made a list. She tells me that lots of power plays go on within the capitol – some try dictating what they should do, and how others should do things. Some of the people said, “We should compromise. If they want us to leave–we should”. However, Mary Jo is part of those who say “No.” The mothers had started it by needing a space to rest, and they found it. By the next day, there were already people (without children) who were trying to kick them out of their space – which is a really good space. “Stake your ground,” her friend recommended. Half the moms decided they would leave like they were asked to. Mary Jo says, “I’m not leaving, I’m going to sit here and hold space.” The moms left, but a half hour later they came back because they had been shooed out of the first floor when the hearings started and there was nowhere else to go. There were three moms. Then I. and E. with her two-year-old made five moms. I ask if anyone who’s not a mom is helping out now? Yes, Mary Jo says. C, a male without children of his own, is holding the space now. She tells me that conceptually the idea came from M.G. (another male) who said “Everyone is not here,” and then they had a long conversation about what they could do for families. The Children’s Museum is a block away and has offered some support with a discount on admission. They are strategizing about what to do next. These are Mary Jo’s key points about the family space they have created: -We are holding space for the people who aren’t here yet -Not everyone is at the table -Everyone is affected. -If we don’t put family first and foremost in the movement, the movement will fail! Mary Jo tells me a little more about her struggles with holding space. “I held that ground [where we had set up the families’ area] at least 3 times where it became very unsure and I had to be very strong and
clear. People aren’t used to that in this day and age. I’m uncompromising. I call it the battle of the north wing.” The most recent incident had happened the day before. Five police officers came in, very forcefully, with their shoes on (You couldn’t ask them to take off their shoes. She had instituted a “no shoes” rule at the door because snow was tracking in and getting very dirty, and she wanted to keep the space clean for babies crawling on the ground). They pushed away the rocking chair she had brought from home at the door. “Excuse me!” she said. A policeman said, “I’ve worked here for 21 years and I can do what I want, I have immunity.” “What does that mean?” she asked. He answered that it means you can come and go, as you like. Mary Jo replied that she has immunity too! “The police told us that we needed to get our stuff out! But we ignored them and they didn’t come back. You just don’t leave when they say!” Bringing the children to the occupation is good for the kids, Mary Jo tells me – and it’s good for the community! People recharge and ground themselves watching children.
Mary Jo is good at showing how an action is built from the conversations and actions of many. She tells me another kernel of wisdom to ponder. C, who works as a “Mama’s helper” and helped Mary after the birth of the last of her three young children, said “Families need backup at home. The GOP wants to affect us in our communities and homes.” Mary Jo expands: “There is a whole tier of people who cannot get to the capitol. It’s too intense there. But they are supporting the occupation from the outside. We need to figure out how to increase the support there.”
Mary Jo wants to emphasize how parents are organizers and that many parents who are organizing this action at the capitol have children at home. Parent organizers first seek support from their own families but even their extended support systems are not enough during this time. She asks other organizers that she knows are parents how they are doing; and how they are keeping things sane at home. What has been happening is there are a lot of typical gender divisions: many of the mother activists are staying home with the children while the father activists continue more visibly working on these issues. She and her husband are currently hiring a nanny to stay home with the children as she continues to organize but she is well aware of the fact that not everyone can afford this. What Mary Jo would like to express to the reader is that the struggle in Madison is going to come to us all. We need to reach out and ask march 3 for help. The reason Mary Jo and others continue working to keep a Family space at the capitol occupation is to work towards collectively supporting children and parents, primarily mothers--those most affected by the new state government’s policies. Note: As of Monday, March 7, the “North Wing Family Center” is no more. All their items have been removed. Concerned participants are planning what to do next and how to rebuild in a new setting or format to support families at the protest. Inspired by “Did You Know There Was a Pop-Up Kindergarten in Tahrir Square?”: www. Mary Jo Walters good.is/post/a-moving-letterfrom-egypt-about-the-role-of-children-in-tahrir-square/ Thanks to Ryan Harvey and to Aimee Pohl for helping to get this essay up on the Baltimore Indy Reader website where it originally was published. Bio: China Martens is the proud single mother of a grown daughter and the editor of “The Future Generation: The Zine-Book for Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends, and Others.” Along with Victoria Law, she is co-editing “Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind” a Radical Parents’ Allies Handbook full of concrete ways to support parents and children. For more information: http://dontleaveyourfriendsbehind. blogspot.com/
Above: Children’s art, created in the Capitol. Left: Holding down the family space.
It started with a question Thursday: March 3 / Christian Hansen
It starts with a question.: “Is this the way it has to be?” This struggle isn’t just a 24hr news ticker headline, this is the defining movement of our time. I was reading about Scott Walker online a lot through
Snow fences and police set up at the Capitol door during the lockdown to contain the hundreds of protesters waiting to enter the building. Right: Matthew Schauenberg’s hunger stike, due to the lack of public access to the Capitol, began March 5 and lasted 28 days. Far right: Meditators line the second floor bidges of the Capitol bulding.
will yell back, “This is what democracy looks like!” Here we are in round 2, and we’re not taking any dives. We’re organized. I work with Wisconsin Resists now doing PR. We’re getting info to the community, hosting discussions and organizing public actions. We’re doing what we can, as often as we can, and we like company. We really do.
articles posted march 12 by friends. From his outdated stance on reproductive rights, to his short sighted refusal of federal aid, Walker’s aims were clearly unacceptable. When a roommate said that he was going to start a facebook group Anette Hansen and organize a protest of Scott’s inauguration, I helped him out as best I could. We made connections with like minds in the community online and raised discussions with group members. In the end, over 600 people were estimated to have participated! Most of the credit goes to groups from Milwaukee who’d been on the front lines too long already, but we’d tasted success. It changed me. People in every walk of life were thinking the same way and took action. The ground lifted. We occupied the capitol for 16 consecutive days. “The sleeping giant” rose to a knee. Then it stood and found work to be done. You can strike sparks anywhere now. Just hit that certain stirring staccato on your car horn and strangers off the street
Thursday: March 3 / Andrew Mazur Dude, I was one of the holdout protesters mentioned in that msnbc article you posted on FB. I, with about one hundred others, just walked out to many many newscameras and flashbulbs, and people cheering. Weirdest moment of my life. When I texted you from, literally, the middle of a giant police standoff between hundreds of yelling protesters, newscameras and a line of resolute cops standing back to back, I thought that was the weirdest moment of my life, but I was wrong.
Water Hope March / Sara Hulsether
to take it all away is not JUST about fear. Tell me Mr CEO, Mr. Money behind the puppet - what IS the goal- you have billions, are you not satisfied till we have nothing? No education, no voice, no choice? A nation of people sharecropped into homelessness? The anger mixes in with fear. Fear that someone-several someones- can actually feel this disregard, want this to play out, plan for this insatiable greed. Can human nature allow multi billionaires to see the world in such a way as to control the lives of so many and take more away, AND justify it? The anger, melts into a fear and shock of paralyzing despair. How do I go on living if this is the state of this world?
There are twin seeds stirring, vying for space, sending the roots to extend into the dirt while the fastest green sprout pushes up through the dirt to sunlight- is there a winner? Can the two seeds grow side by side within this soil of me? Hope and fear, which will win? And what does winning mean? Hope is certainly the winner on the capitol square at any time of day or night. Surrounded by the friendly faces, clever signs, honest determination, donated pizzas from afar, children and parents, bagpipe playing firefighters, sleep deprived drum and bucket playing college students, stoic hard hat- hard assed union boys, “retired but not tired” group, the raging Grannies, an 80 year old grandpa limping away in flannel shirt and ‘Carpenter unions built this country’ sign. HOPE is the clear winner. To be at the capitol amidst the clarity of purpose, the newly discovered passion, the power and miracle of solidarity is something for which I will be grateful to have experienced. But, the other sprout is also racing to the surface. Take this protester away from the crowd, the din, the chants. What, there are people who DON’T care? What, you don’t agree? Huh? “Teachers are greedy”? Where was I, did I NOT just have a sublime experience???? Walk into my home on any day, and I can stir you up a batch of fear. After all, I have two middle school march 2 children, it’s not too hard. Come into my home with me after a rally and I crash like a plane that drops all engines, spiraling into fear, free falling. It is as if my out If humans can be this hardened, this heartless, of body unity with all that is good in the rotunda paraI fear, that I lack the ability to...hope. dise wakes up shocked and naked in a Wisconsin winter. And thankfully, that other sprout is still there. While The Republican agenda in motion to remove the I sit in the pit of numbing despair for our human state, middle class, destroy public education, take away health the sun rises each day warming the earth for spring, a care, and... and... and what more? What greedy bastards, single candle lights the darkest space, my child sees my is not one billion enough for you hedge fund people? face, feels my pain and gives a wordless hug. Destroy NPR and Planned Parenthood, like you will care That sprout has taken a beating, it is parched, and for MORE children in poverty like the ones you are axing wilted, for in my despair all the energy has gone to with cuts to Medicaid and BadgerCare already? And anger, and to fear. what of the illiterate masses? Where exactly will they Hope quietly, persistently reminds me that the work? With no middle class, who exactly will consume 21st day of protests, they, WE are still here. We are still the plastic shit and the McDonalds? Will we be the coming, around the clock we still come. This is what new sweat shops? Is the goal to destroy this country, democracy looks like. The thousands who came/go/stay to make the greedy richer at the cost of democracy? KNOW what is at stake. We are not alone, people from Will you crush any form of debate, election possibility around the world are watching and in support of us. and think we all will continue to sit ideally by watchRelax into that solidarity. Breathe into the knowledge of ing American Idol and eating Taco John’s fake meat like minded, while not alike, feeling this same euphoria products?? of an inner newly discovered power. And while not But wait, is this fear or anger? Is the seed bursting necessarily aware of what perils may lie ahead, we forth righteous anger at all that is wrong, or is it fear for are rooted in the truth of what we have experienced what I cannot control for the future. together. No one can take this away from us, and we are How do I separate the anger from the fear....the fear changed forever because of it. from the anger. Surely my anger at the corporate greed Two seeds sprouting. Water Hope.
Above: A discussion of vertical vs. horizontal power structures is the topic of today’s People Popular Assembly which takes place daily in the rotunda.
Friday: March 4 / Andrew Mazur Here is a rundown of everything that happened since last Saturday when the rally outside was 100,000 (biggest yet) and over one thousand people were sleeping in the capitol nightly. Saturday night, February 26th, was the 4th night I slept in the capitol, but when I left Sunday morning the rules for re-entry had changed, and I, along with hundreds of others, couldn’t get back in. There were only one hundred in the capitol by last night because Sunday, the police got most people to leave by enforcing a 1 in for every 2 out policy. Then that night, they told everyone they risked arrest by staying. But 600ish people stayed anyway and the various head cops (primarily Chief Tubbs of the capitol police and Chief Riseling of the UW cops) decided they could stay. Walker has called for disciplining Chief Tubbs for making this decision without consulting him. Then, everyday beginning Monday morning the capitol was effectively closed. The assembly dems held a
Above: Police defied court orders and closed most entrances and most public access to the Capitol during the lockdown.
public hearing so that it could be opened, but the cops wouldn’t budge because they had their orders from the DOA which Walker controls. So the rules then were 1 in for 1 out; however they were extra sneaky and would tell people inside to leave out a side entrance, therefore missing the head counter and thus another person couldn’t not be let in to replace them. Shenanigans. So the numbers inside atrophied. Huge crowds formed around the capitol Monday, Tue and Wed in response to this. In disgust, two or three reps (including Kelda Helen Roys) moved their desks outside and held office hours on the capitol lawn, in the cold. When Majority leader Fitzgerald complains about the abuse of capitol furniture, an assemblywoman offers him her credit card.
On Tuesday, Dane county Sheriff David Mahoney pulls his troops, saying he refuses to be Gov. Walker’s “palace guard.” Nice. On Tuesday Walker goes into the capitol to announce his new budget, but we can’t get in to protest. Only 200 are left inside, and get this, there’s an underground tunnel from the Risser Justice Center into the capitol that Walker has been using. No joke, and Walker used it to bring in his supporters so they could cheer during his budget address, while we were denied access. But, on Tuesday, the rally outside is the biggest yet for a weekday, and so loud you can hear us booing on TV when Walker is giving his address. Tuesday night there is a late evening candle light march of at least a couple thousand that begins at the unitarian church, but doesn’t make the news. The Dems, and the local ACLU chapter decide the cap being closed during hearings and Gov. addresses is unconstitutional (which it is) and a judge agrees. The DOA allows people inside with an appointment to meet their representative but they are escorted in and out with police and not allowed to stay the night. The DOA considers this “compliance” with the judge’s orders, but the dems and ACLU disagree. It goes back to court Wednesday. The court considered it all day Wednesday and Thursday (yesterday). On Wednesday, rallies outside continue, which I attend, and then someone leaves (out the correct entrance) and asks for a volunteer to take his place to sleep inside, so I do. Thursday, a New Orleans style “no concessions funeral procession” begins at library mall and marches up to the capitol. It begins with 250 people and swells to 10,000 (12 blocks long, long enough to circle the capitol entirely when it arrives). I am inside. Jack and Eva are in the parade. Inside the capitol, the judge’s ruling is released at 5:45pm and rules that the 1 in 1 out and by appointment only policies are indeed unconstitutional and the capitol must reopen as it was before on Monday 3/7. This is a legislative victory for us and makes Walker look like more of a bully. However, it also rules that since there is no longer all night testimony nor assembly debate going on, we can no longer stay past 6pm or sleep there. So us inside now have 15 mins to decide if Ryan Connor
we break the streak of “holding” the capitol or stay and risk arrest, no longer for petty tresspassing but now for violation of a court order, a felony. Every local news camera and many from out of town are in the capitol at this point waiting for a story. THEN, the parade of 10,000 reaches the capitol. Police leave one door unguarded but locked, and protesters inside open it and about 100 protesters from the funeral parade march in chanting. The cops freak out and the news cameras swarm. There is a mad rush of people and the end result is that 100 people from the outside and 100 of us on the inside in the same hallway, are separated by a line of wide-eyed cops standing back to back. I text you from the middle of this. There is much yelling, chanting, and arguing for about 45 min. Rep. Brett Hulsey (kind of a toolbox) gives a speech as does a police spokesman, about how we have to leave the capitol, but they are both shouted down. Protesters argue among themselves re: co-operation with law enforcement vs. not. Then we all sing the National Anthem. Finally, police push back those from the outside, but 25 hold-outs stay in. The rest of us meet with Chief Tubbs and amongst ourselves to decide what to do. There are many many interesting details about the next 3 hours of debate and meetings which occur in the capitol, and the amazing buzz of media inside (so many people with press passes scribbling in their note books or dictating stories into blackberries, and every word we protesters say to each other and the cops recorded with cameras in our faces. Just so fucking crazy, us being in the news. After a giant hourslong meeting where everyone, including cops and representatives, takes turns giving their opinion about what to do (stay or go) we decide to go. I am a holdout who thinks we should stay until I’m convinced by a one-on-one conversation with my new hero, Representative Kelda Helen Roys. She tells me that if we stay in defiance of court order, we will lose public support/moral high ground, and the 14 dem senators may not be able to stay gone then because they will be associated with “law breaking thugs.” As I write in my notebook, we take over an hour to both rationalize and realize the only choice we had from the get go -- to leave. And so, with assurance that we will all be there again tomorrow, outside if we can’t get in til monday, and that we will flood
the capitol legally from 8 to 6pm daily, and that our signs will be left up in capitol, we march out. Members of the parade have been waiting outside to “welcome us” and the media is even bigger outside. We want it to look like a victory, because of the court ruling. I think it was absolutely mixed, of course. But the liberal media (iethe Ed show) spun it one way (“Victorious protesters leave capitol”) and I’m sure the G.O.P. media spun it the other (“Protesters forced out of capitol; 17-day occupation ends”). Then every protester goes to Brocach and gets beer on Brett Hulsey’s tab, perhaps the weirdest scene of all. The anarchist medics, the TAA marshalls in their vests, the whole strange mix of ages, styles and ideologies that has made up this protest, all drinking together (many hadn’t left the capitol at all in over a week). All are vowing to rally outside the next day. Many set up tents and slept outside the capitol (“Walkerville”) for three nights in a row. I can provide march 3 more details if you donna magdalina want, but that is a completely accurate run down of last 5-6 days. I don’t think I missed any major events, other than not fully describing the intensity of the Sunday and Tuesday rallies, when 1000s of people swarmed and surrounded the capitol, angry they couldn’t get in. Or how on Tuesday they erected an orange fence around the capitol so we couldn’t even walk up to the doors, and thousands, loud as fuck, were amassed behind it. And then swarmed the capitol, banging on the doors literally by the 1000s once the fences were taken down conveniently after Walker finished his shit-sandwich speech. That, until yesterday, was perhaps the most intense moment of my life. But everyday seems to top the last.
march 3 donna magdalina
Above: Peg Lautenschlager reads the court order, saying protesters must leave the Capitol. Left: Protesters hold a town meeting to decide how they will to the court order.
I had a blast
Sunday: March 6 / Sarana Carter WEEK
well shucks. i had a damn blast. for a while. i believed in why i was there in a way i had not believed in protests before. i participated in the capital occupation in a way that i had not participated in action before. i felt my place deeply here. and i lived it. with countless others (whom i am deeply thankful to and for). dear occupation: i loved your artwork, drumming, tears, poetry, windows, hugs, shoulders, check-ins, meetings, shared blankets, reminders to eat, clean up, community, voices, hands.... nameless mo*expect resistance by ments i am forgetting. i am crimethinc. i think everymarch 6 closer to many in my comone should read it. munity because of you. But, what, what, what did happen to you? i came here to write of power. of leadership. of consensus. of hierarchy. of sadness at what it became. of pasundays: March 6 & 13 / Lori Seaborne thology. of being the very evil we so desperately want to push out of our lives. politics can not be your work, I went to the capitol today, Mar. 16, to continue my your career. there is, it seems, a line in the sand between Sunday silent protests. I think I was the first person those of us who would like to “improve the system” and there, besides the hundred police officers. As I was those of us who know a secret. that it is a losing game. getting screened for weapons, one cop said, “Oh, yeah, I Politics is a losing game. Negotiating with police and heard they did yoga in the rotunda last Sunday.” taking special privileges from them is a game you have I went and sat on my mat. A different officer came already lost. we will never create any meaningful new and squatted next to me, with the list of “banned items” system of living with the same behaviors that created in his hand. He pointed to the part where it said, “sleepthe current one. so what of power? what of hierarchy? ing bags and mats.” I said that I understand that to mean They are violent! We do not need or want to live in the mats for sleeping and I was only going to be here for an shadow of (your) power! those who desire change must hour. He said that they don’t want the mats in the capicontest the totality itself! in themselves! the basic paratol because they take up floor space. I looked around digms are the manifestations. what does this mean? at the empty rotunda. He looked with me, and said, we must challenge our own behaviors, beliefs, “I know there’s no one else here and actions that are directly reflective of the very now, but it’s the policy.” I said that it march 6 “system” we believe ourselves to be challenging. made me really sad that they want we must challenge our commitment to justice, to squash my voice, even when I honesty, integrity, and transparency in our most just want to come and be silent. He personal lives and communities. get your shit said he didn’t want that, but he had together. THEN you can be the change! so, octo follow the rules. I rolled up my cupation, my love, i left a bit disappointed in you; mat and sat on the floor. He had however, with more clarity than ever about peowalked away and joined another ple. myself and others. my only closing thoughts officer. are on the institution of democracy itself. lots Then I said to him, “This is not of folks seemed to think they were demonstratthe world you want your children ing, or even upholding this vague notion. some to grow up in.” donna magdalina notes from expect resistance*: democracy itself He looked at me and said, “You’re is an impediment to freedom. majority rule is oppresright. It’s not. I’m glad you’re here.” sive, divisive and homogenizing. the political apparatus Consider sitting in silence at the capitol at 8 am. It itself is the foundation of the imbalance. finding our matters. donna magdalina
place within this system perpetuates it. democracy is a way to maintain the distinction between powerful and powerless. it gives the greatest number of people incentive to defend the divide. so, in other words, i am not interested in what democracy looks like. i am interested though, in my community, and who i and others truly are when it is time to care for ourselves by sharing skills, food, love, resources and education. when reporters, pizza boxes and college campuses are far from sight... what are you doing in your community to live your ideals? who are you then?
Sunday yoga protest
Random notes of an “insider” March / Alexandra
INTERLUDE 1! The LIST OF THINGS I SAW>AT WORK, or whatever else.... a different kind of insanity~! THE COOL The sign that said “Of course it hurts when you get screwed by an elephant!” The tables with free oranges, and cough drops, and sandwiches! They were supposed to be for the protesters, but they didn’t turn me down! Going to that Barrymore event to see Dennis Kucinich speak and listening to the crowd drown him out with cheers...well it’s better than jeers I guess! The policewoman who made a joke about lingerie on a crowded elevator and watching the look on people’s faces! Hanging out on a Saturday for 3 hours and absorbing all the sights and sounds is something else! Free Ian’s Pizza! The dogs are protesting as well! Greasy pizza boxes that say “This one’s like Walker- A little too greasy!” Stop littering! The annoying talentless hacks with guitars on upper state street signing their “kill the bill” songs, yo I get your point, but having to listen to you any further makes me want to throw an orange at you! Point: “There is no aggression here”. Counterpoint: “The protesters are a bunch of angry union mobs!” Smoking a cigar in the midst of it all for a laugh! Crowds of kids there, you wonder what they’re all doing until you realized that class was canceled anyway! The fight between the liberals and teapartiers! Looking out at the “teamsters” van when I didn’t get enough sleep and thinking that it said “Tea Party”, wanting to run far, far away... ??ZOMBIES?? Vandalism, there was the bad, the bad, and the funny (recall Scott) written on a Scott toilet paper holder so that only recall needed to be written. That guy in blue saying “Hey FITZY BOY! It’s time to come down and meet your maker!”
Left: Art by Dan Ott, made from the lettering found on commercially printed protest posters hung in the Capitol.
That Segway Dude got kicked out of the gallery! Stupid signs. Saying things like “We Wisconsinites are treated worse than lab animals!” “I’m in love with my placement manager!” Overpriced buttons and shirts! Aggressive salespeople! The campouts! I’ll miss the fun! The stress, the confusion, the overwhelming noise from being in the midst of it all. See: Giant Inflatable Palm Trees “Don’t be too surprised or shocked when you hear of government employees using drugs. Sometimes the higher up, the higher you get!” The drum circles. Worse yet, the Sing-A-Long in the Rotunda everyday with “This land is your land” and “We Shall Overcome”. This isn’t grade school! What are you trying to prove beyond noise pollution? The “Wall of white boys” on the 3rd floor North Wing. Not that that’s new or anything... !Death threats on both sides (one to Fitzgerald was announced over the intercom!) V---THE PET PEEVES THE things we do to try to keep it together! Go Walker? Just kidding! So here you have it, basically a sort of list of things. I wrote a diary for the entire first week of my experience working in the capitol when the occupation started, but decided against using that in favor of this...
The night we took back the capitol Wednesday: March 9 / Fred Schepartz
Sometime after 5 PM, March 9, Facebook was ablaze with reports that the fiscal elements of the budget repair bill had been removed. Passage of legislation essentially outlawing collective bargaining for public employees was imminent. My wife Georgia came home. I said I have to go up to the capitol. She wasn’t feeling well and decided to stay home. “Are you going to get arrested?” she asked. “I don’t know,” I replied. “You going to call your girlfriend, Laura Flanders?” she asked. That’s a running joke. Laura of GritTV and formerly Air America had made two trips to Madison since the protests began. I had met her last summer. She contacted me prior to her first trip here. I’d helped
Above: Saturday ritual at Union Cab: gather, make signs, then drive cabs up to State St. for a parade and march.
her out by driving her around town as needed. We’d become friends. But I was so freaked out by what was happening I’d forgotten about Laura. I sent her a quick text. “Keep the news coming,” she texted back. “I’ll be on Ed tonight.” I wolfed down some soup and headed up to the capitol a little after 6:00 PM. When I arrived at the King Street entrance, there were already several hundred people there. More people poured in. The Square was jammed with cars, honking continuously. Protesters crowded at the King Street doors, chanting “Let us in! Let us in!” No surprise, all the doors were locked. Somebody yelled, “doors are open at the next entrance.” Some of the crowd moved to the Martin Luther King, Jr. entrance and then the South Hamilton entrance. Doors would open briefly then close. I ran into Butch, a fellow worker at Union Cab. Butch is also president of our board of directors. We moved to the West Washington entrance, which is one of the
smaller, enclosed entrances. Around 50 people crowded in at the doors. Suddenly, I became nervous, fearing that something bad was about to happen. For some stupid reason, a quartet of State Troopers worked their way through the crowd because they had to get in at that entrance. A door opened. Two troopers entered the building. Protesters tried to push their way in. The door shut, and the troopers were stuck in the middle of what could have been an angry crowd. My stomach tightened. I expected the troopers to pull out their nightsticks and start swinging. Instead, they worked their way out the crowd, holding onto each other. No one bothered them. We moved to the State St. entrance where another substantial crowd had assembled. Doors opened. A few people got inside. Doors slammed shut. A marshal announced, “If you get inside, be aware you may be arrested. Don’t fight with the police.” Butch and I ran into Ingrid, a long time Union cabbie who’d recently retired. “I’m too old to get arrested,” she said. Ten minutes later, the doors flew open, all of them. Butch and I looked at each other as the crowd poured through the open doors, not sure what to expect. There were no cops anywhere. We’d done it. We’d taken back the Capitol. I promptly texted Laura: “I’m in!” Later I texted her, “It’s like the storming of the Bastille!” Laura texted back, “Wowed.” The scene inside the Capitol was about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Tons of people, all kinds of people. I even ran into my chiropractor. All the rules went out the window. People brought in signs—on sticks! People brought sleeping bags, noisemakers, loudspeaker systems. I saw several dogs, but no snakes. And food. Almost immediately, a stack of Ian’s pizzas arrived. The information booth on the ground floor was transformed into a buffet. I ran into an old friend who used to work in politics and is a long-time political observer. He was a bit tipsy. Despite the overall feeling of euphoria, his mood bordered on despondent. We sat on the steps and talked. He told me he was going to be driving his tractor in from Blue Mounds for Saturday’s tractor-cade. I urged him to draw inspiration from the crowd, from the scene, from the little thing we had done on this night, just when things looked to be their darkest. “One way or another,” I said, “we will find a way to win.” “I hope you’re right,” he replied. In retrospect, it’s hard to say what we really accomplished that night. We didn’t keep the Capitol for a prolonged period of time, and it’s nearly impossible to quantify what long-term affect our action had. What we did was the largest direct action I’ve ever witnessed. Each and every person inside the Capitol broke the law. As Laura said in a text, following the initial temporary restraining order by Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, “Amazing. Look what you did.”
Wednesday: March 9 / Donna Magdalina I was in the middle of cooking dinner for my family when I received the call. And another. Then the emails. “Get to the capitol NOW! They’re going to vote on the bill at 6pm!” It was 5:40pm. Like everyone else, my march 9 life once again came to a screaching halt. I turned off the stove, piled on warm boots, snow pants and gear, not knowing how many hours of cold we’d be once again enduring. I jumped on my bicycle and pounded out the two mile winter night ride to the capitol building in record speed with my teenage son. We arrived at 6pm. Capitol doors were locked with crowds swelling at every door. Arrivals were continuously and anxiously flooding onto the capitol grounds. Chants of “Who’s house? Our house!”, “Let us in! Let us in!” and “What does democracy look like? This is what democracy looks like!” permeated the potent night air. As surges of anger periodically burst forth, the crowd breathtakingly swelled up to contain and calm each occurrence. Chants of “This is a peacemarch 9 ful protest! This is a peaceful protest!” gained momentum and adherents until the anger diffused. A nameless voice shouts into the night, “The MLK entrance is open!” causing a surge of hundreds, rushing as one massive body up the stairs in the thickened darkness to reach the doors. The first dozens slip inside before doors slam shut again. A bathroom window, an office window, silently open, quickly filling with bodies pouring inside before the inevitable slam. Back on the MLK porch, the hundreds who didn’t gain access are squeezed together, chanting, breathing as an entity. Occasionally fury grows. A man begins hurling his body brutally, repeatedly at the heavy, reinforced wooden doors, trying to break them down. The crowd grabs him, containing him within us, and someone begins the chant, “Peaceful! Peaceful!” The calming force engulfs us all, wrapping us in a lullaby of invigorating edginess. Another man juts forth to rush a police officer. The crowd gets him first, protecting the officer from harm. The chant begins, “He’s doing his job. He’s doing his job.” The swarm rocks, infused within the agitated crooning. This mob entity policed itself, safeguarded the of-
ficers and upheld the dignity of life, despite outrage at unfolding events. Instead of sparring positions, protesters and police became intertwined in a whorled vortex of new realities. We created a safety net of love and compassion for humanity, beyond imaginable dreams of possibility. It was extraordinarily magnificent and bewilderingly supple. Police were completely understaffed. Republican legislators obviously failed to inform police in advance of the night’s meeting, disallowing police the dignity and necessity of proper planning. I was stunned the Republicans were willing to sacrifice police officers’ lives in order to pass this bill. Their assumed privilege and arrogance of either not considering or else expecting police to be at risk to die for them was donna magdalina beyond appalling. This mob of protesters could easily have taken down each officer but instead formed a safety net that saved police lives. Police were skilled and wise by eventually withdrawing and allowing full public access to the capitol building rather than fearfully reacting with weapons. The media splurge claiming protesters caused a
mysterious $7.5 million of damage to the capitol during protests was severely misinformed. Upon searching, no one could ever locate these damages. Correct wording: “Heroic protesting mob saves lives and capitol from $7.5 million in potential damages that management negligence instigated.”
Left: Pizzas and cases of water for protesters are loaded into the Capitol through building windows during the lockdown. Below: Thousands of protesters rush to the Capitol as Republican legislators try to secretly and swiftly pass the BRB bill after hours.
One night at the Assembly
Wed-Thurs: March 9-10 / Elizabeth Wrigley-Field
Of my own modest contributions to Wisconsin’s protest movement, one I remain proudest of is sitting in overnight at the Assembly as the bill was being passed. The pictures of police dragging us out one by one dominated the news coverage, locally and nationally, of Walker forcing through
Above: Thousands of protesters throng to the Capitol and gain entrance while Republican Senators are attempting to rush a surprise, late night vote on the Budget Repair Bill. Above right: The Capitol info desk is immediately transformed into a buffet table for hungry protesters as an assembly line of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches begins.
his so-called Budget Repair Bill. The pictures made it obvious that Walker couldn’t achieve his agenda without mobilizing the police to defend a fundamentally undemocratic process. Equally, it showed that opposition to Walker’s agenda could and would continue even without support from the major institutions of our side, the unions. Our small action maintained the spirit of defiance at one defining moment.
Deciding to occupy again
On March 9, I was at a lecture on sexuality and socialism when we all started getting text messages saying that the Senate was passing the bill. Someone stood up and announced this and we all ran out. Running up State Street, we shouted to people on the sidewalks what was happening. By the time I got into the capitol, crowds of people were chanting, “General strike!” Everyone was furious, and everyone was waiting to see what would happen. In the meantime, we fought to get more people into the building and onto the higher floors. That last night crystallized the dynamic that had developed over the course of the occupation, as protesters and police battled to define “the new normal”: they would block the doors; we would create a diversion and get a set of doors open; and once a sufficient critical mass was inside, they would decide to let the doors stay open. At some point, the idea passed between many of us that we should try to hold on to the Assembly
chambers, where the bill was to be voted on the next morning. Surely if we had a chance to take and hold the space, it would be now. After pairing up to travel through the building encouraging people to join us in the Assembly space, the first thing we did was organize a democratic town hall about whether to stay. Based on prior experience of Rep. Brett Hulsey commandeering microphones to urge us all to leave the Capitol, we started by voting on ground rules: anyone could speak; no one could speak for more than a few minutes at a stretch; and no one, not even our elected officials, could cut in line. The debate was heated. Chief Tubbs and union officials circulated, Tubbs assuring us that staying meant guaranteed arrest (a lie, it turned out), and officials spreading rumors that conviction could carry a sentence of six months in prison. Democratic and NGO staffers lined up to beg us to leave, asking us to think about “how this would look.” When it was my turn to speak, I asked everyone to think back three weeks. From that mindset, could we imagine anything that would look worse than teachers shutting down school for four days donna magdalina with no notice? Yet the teachers’ sick-outs are what propelled our protests into mass opposition. They asserted teachers’ own dignity and showed everyone this wasn’t protest as usual. Teachers took the strongest stand they could, and instead of alienating Wisconsin and the nation, won them over. At this time, everyone was still hoping that the teachers would sick out again the next day. I still think that if they had—if any group of workers had—many more would have followed. But soon we got word that, after hours of intense discussion, and under enormous pressure from a union leadership fearful of anything that might derail contract settlement before the bill took effect, Madison teachers had narrowly voted to work the next day. Given how close a vote it was, I still wonder what might have happened had a radical rank-and-file caucus existed in MTI. But no such caucus existed. What we could influence was what happened at the Assembly. By this time, it was clear that, even without support from the leadership of any union, we would have a critical mass to stay the night. A group of just a couple dozen, ranging from college freshmen to middle-aged workers, union and non-, some who would take a sick day to try to stop Walker’s vote, settled in in the Assembly vestibule to get whatever sleep we could. Around 5 AM, we regrouped and prepared to defend our space.
We had come a long way since February, but we still
had a lot more learning to do. Perhaps this is the famed Wisconsin niceness, but even though we all knew we were there to try to prevent a vote, the first time someone tried to break through our line, most activists’ impulse was to move out of the way to let them pass. Both times, we assessed this and realized that there was no reason to be there unless we were going to physically block access to the voting chambers. Next we learned, in the hallway outside the Assembly door that police seemed most determined to have to access that blocking trained police doesn’t work if they can easily grab individuals and pull them away, one at a time. We would need to march 9 lock arms and go limp to make clearing us as difficult as possible, and we did some practice runs to get used to the feeling and feel confident that we would be ready when they came. (Going limp significantly escalates the legal charges that can be brought against you, since it can qualify as resisting arrest; therefore, it’s important that we decided this in the context of an overall judgment about what risks we were taking and were willing to take in these circumstances. We were certain that there would be widespread, deeplyfelt support for what we were doing and we believed that this was likely to protect us.) Practicing was important, because every time the police made a move—whether trying to move someone through our line, or blocking access to our area so other activists couldn’t join us as reinforcements—it came suddenly, leaving us very little chance in the moment to decide what to do. Recognizing this, we also tried to move a large desk to block our hallway, in the hopes of buying us a bit more time before the cops reached us. Although the area outside our hallway was still filled with activists when we took the desk, we didn’t succeed in keeping it because a Democratic assemblywoman and the police convinced many people outside our hallway that this was a “safety hazard.” (And passing a bill that kicks entire families off their health care isn’t?) In retrospect, we might have been in a stronger position if we in the hallway had communicated with the activists right outside and agreed on the importance of a physical blockade before we went ahead and did it. We also learned some things about negotiating with the police. Early in the morning, Chief Tubbs came into
the hallway we were holding to speak with us. Chief Tubbs is very good at his job, and his job that morning was to figure out how to get us to leave. A strategy he employed many times was to try to divide protesters, figuring out which ones he could appeal to as “reasonable,” while marginalizing those he couldn’t. In the hallway that morning, he told us that the building was closed because we hadn’t been “security screened,” and no march 9 activists would be let into the building—despite the
court order that the building open as usual—until we consented to be screened downstairs. One member of our group, more credulous than the rest of us, offered that we could all go downstairs for screening if Tubbs would promise to let us come back to occupy the hallway—to which Tubbs readily agreed. The rest of us were sure that since Chief Tubbs had repeatedly broken promises to us—including his promise to open the building after the first time we had refused en masse to leave, on February 27—we would be quite foolish to give up the most strategic space at the crucial moment, when the bill was to be passed. Right away, we organized a discussion and vote about what to do. Our most important decisions were: first, that the only way we would leave the hallway would be on a one-for-one basis, i.e., a replacement activist entering before anyone left. (This didn’t end up happening, but in retrospect, given how much we were learning together in the hallway about how to make the sit-in work, we might have been more wary of letting ourselves be replaced in large number. In any case, once it became clear to the police that the ruse wouldn’t get us to leave, the security screening business was dropped entirely.) And second, we decided that we would have no individual negotiations with anyone—not police, not
Above and above left: During the March 9 seige on the Capitol as Republicans attempt to pass the BRB in a surprise committee session, large puppets, musical bands and even protesting snow people appear, with signs saying “ Voice,” “Solidarity,” and “Worker’s Rights.”
Democratic politicians or capitol staffers. Instead, our response to all offers or demands would be, “Thank you, now we need to discuss that amongst ourselves in Right: A privacy” so we could decide together what to do—and visiting IWW without giving any more information to Tubbs member. about who he should try to sway. Figuring all this out took march 9-10 a while, but we still had downtime as we waited for the police to make their move. One way we spent it was talking to the media. A particularly hilarious moment occurred when an AP reporter asked a man filming us what media he was from. “It’s a network,” the cameraman muttered, suddenly looking shifty. Which network? “Uh, the network,” he said. Of course, he was Fox News, and we all started chanting, “You lie! You lie! You lie about Wisconsin!” Although all the protests had been crawling with Anette Hansen
rived, as the police moved in. Although we made this as difficult as possible, one by one they pulled us out and deposited us on the other side of a line of police. One of those officers left guarding us, a fairly young man, was openly crying. Through chants, we appealed to them to break ranks: “You know what’s right, and this isn’t it!” and “Be brave like a teacher: sick out!” Of course, they didn’t. Although dozens of us were involved in this action, for some reason my picture was the one used most by the media. An unexpected benefit is that in the months since that action, I have met wonderful strangers who recognized me. For Mary Jo Walters example, at a doctor’s appointment a week later—I was still suffering from Capitol Plague—the nurses came to thank me and tell me about their fear that they couldn’t afford to stay nurses if Walker’s bills passed. One had used her lunch break the previous day to close her account at M&I, but worried it wouldn’t matter because her savings are so small.
march 10 Top: A family chooses to stay and sleep at the capitol after the evening siege, even without bedding.
right-wing media trying to make us look foolish and violent, in the excitement of our morning, we had naively forgotten that those filming us didn’t necessarily plan to accurately report what we were doing. We also declared ourselves, to the assembled reporters, the People’s Assembly. If our official government wasn’t going to represent the people, we would put the real questions about Wisconsin’s finances on the table for democracy. We started taking proposals and organizing votes among the protesters about what should happen in our state. The first proposal passed unanimously: address Wisconsin’s deficit by taxing corporations and the rich.
The moment, and its aftermath
Eventually, the moment we’d been preparing for ar-
Mary Jo Walters
Being thanked has been humbling, but I know what they’re really expressing appreciation for is not so much what I did, but what we all did together when we said that no matter who was arrayed against us, we were going to stand up for ourselves and each other. Elizabeth Wrigley-Field is a member of the Teaching Assistant Association and the International Socialist Organization, and helped to found the Wisconsin Resists coalition. She reported on the capitol occupation for SocialistWorker.org
Interviews: Harriet, Thi & Miles
Wed & thurs: Mar 9-10 / Transcribed by Joe Brewer
Miles: I was outside communicating with people and trying to open doors. I opened up a couple of doors. State Troopers appeared. I was on the outside of the door, they finally got the door shut. There was a struggle at the door where I was grabbed by a state trooper as well as a protestor. I remember this huge camera (possibly a major network) I smiled and said “Hi Mom!”! They pulled me back and shut the door. A window was opened. People started putting signs in the window. People climbed in through the win-
Harriet: I think since I knew this was happening I have been trying to figure out how I came back to the capitol….. Because I know I received about 15 text messages: “They are going to pass the bill now get there right now. “ I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing. But that I actually came in through police march 9 dispatch, through the door. Were police there? At the capitol I was on the negotiating team. It was shut down. The police said we could come and go through that door if we needed too. So when I came back, people would storm the doors. Then they were locked again. Various waves of people stormed the doors. I went in there but did not talk to Chief Tubbs or anything. I went upstairs and people were around up by the assembly. I remember it being really chaotic. I remember people running around in a circle downstairs. The cops were opening doors and closing them. They would let a few people through and close the door. I remember that happening, being around and trying to get the vibe. I don’t remember when we found out the actual vote had happened. It was early the next day. That would be March 10th, I think it was at one in the morning. I remember not going to sleep, teared up and crying. They march 10 march 10 announced the vote at night and then voted in the morning. People were all around and I set up a little information station. I put up a piece of paper and just sat there, trying to get the vibe of the crowd. I spent the night there and left in the afternoon. I was confused because I wasn’t inside where the people were occupying the assembly space, I was on the outside the whole time. I didn’t realize they were trying to physically prevent them from voting. Thi Lee: If I remember the date correctly a lot of people were sitting in the rotunda. I went and donna magdalina sat with four protestors. This was March 9th.This was dows. Bathroom windows and office windows. A news afterward when the capitol had been cleared and they crew followed me through a bathroom window. I was were ramming thought the legislation that would kill going back and forth through open window, communicollective bargaining. They had left the building but cating with friends on the inside and the outside. then reconvened early. They reconvened about five The doors remained closed. You pop the windows minutes earlier. I can’t remember what was happening open, it works that way. Latches that is all. People kept legislatively. I don’t remember what the spark was that moving in. Troopers were gathering at the doors. Got a made people get there. In the morning they actually text about a door. A door was rushed. A diversion was prevented the assembly from meeting. Maybe the sencreated. We got in en masse. ate had passed it. To me it was more important what More and more people came. They finally left the the people were doing. How they were disobeying doors open all night, the police gave up. The ball was the cops’ orders. It was reported on Democracy Now in our court. The next morning they brought in the Dethat people were opening up windows and climbpartment of Justice and those guys were intense. One ing through en masse, at least a hundred people did of them pushed me out the door in the cold with only a that. A lot of people were sitting down. t-shirt on. They wouldn’t let the Reverend Jackson in.
Below: A Teaching Assistants Association (TAA) hallway meeting.
Above: Police dressed in riot gear, and refusing to be photographed, appeared in the Capitol March 10, the morning after the siege.
Words for the occupation Thursday: March 10 / Kristin Forde
To sum up the occupation in a limited number of words -- that brief moment in time that feels like a dream now -- is proving to challenge me enough that I’m not sure I can write a cohesive essay. Instead, I share a stream of connected thoughts: *I am 37 years old. I grew up near Madison and visited the capitol frequently. My dad was a lobbyist - a big money lobbyist. I didn’t understand this as a kid. Eventually I learned that he was playing a game I didn’t like...but I always loved spending time in the capitol building. For a child it is a place of wonder. *The first morning I entered the capitol during the protest, the occupation was already three days strong. It was quiet in sound, but I was moved to tears when I saw the walls literally covered with banners and signs. Something big was happening here, like nothing I’d ever experienced. *I taught school for six years. I worked with amazing teachers, but couldn’t deal with the system. As I walked out of the capitol that morning , I was greeted at the door by my teaching team from Sennett Middle School whom I hadn’t seen in five years. This moment of synchronicity brought more tears filled with wonder and lots of heartfelt hugs. My acts of protest over the next few weeks would be with these teachers at the forefront of my mind. *I walked from the capitol to a morning dance. The sun was shining and it was an unusually warm February day. The birds were singing and I was greeted by a joyful man with a tie “Beautiful, isn’t it? It’s the smallest birds who make the prettiest song!” * From this moment, I was swept up into days of constant occupation at the capitol. I danced in the rotunda, slept side by side with my dancing friends and my 16 year old niece on marble floors, gazed at the ceiling while listening to the quiet echoes of this massive sleep over. I shared feelings and thoughts about the world with both people I know and don’t know. I admired the beautiful glow of my friends as we stuck together through this mysterious event in time. I rang a family bell over the balcony while thousands of people marched into the capitol shoulder to shoulder, step by step, chanting “This is what democracy looks like.” I was amazed, over and over again. *I sat through a court hearing after the capitol was successfully cleared and locked down. I listened to the law makers and administrators defend their actions to keep people out of the capitol. I looked in their hollow eyes and heard their heartless recitation of rules. I protested their rules outside locked doors with a sign that said “Denying access to government is tyranny.” *I ran to the capitol when lawmakers were ramming the bill through minutes before the building’s official closing time. I walked through metal detectors and had
my belongings searched, along with hundreds of other people. They locked the doors. And then the people won. The doors were unlocked from the inside and the police were outnumbered. The people took over. Hundreds of people poured into the capitol to cheers and high fives by those of us who refused to leave. It was not until the next day when the police chose to physically remove us so the lawmakers could conduct their business and ignore the people. * The capitol will forever remain my house now. The greatest challenge is to move forward with deep roots in this moment of time. We came together to protect the land we love, Wisconsin. The struggle continues. PEACE! POWER!
Part of the occupation Wednesday: March 9 / David Schau
My name is David and I have been a part of the occupation of the capitol since day one, trying to be there every day so long as I don’t fail any of my courses in school. I have seen things, remarkable things, throughout this tough fight against the state. To start, here is a random list: marched with Reverend Jesse Jackson; witnessed Senator Grothman being chased at the M&I bank rally on March 9th; marched with hundreds of thousands of people a few weeks ago on a beautiful Saturday; a human chain formed around the capitol building when they tried to kick us out (it was about 10 degrees and snowing/sleeting); Chief Tubbs begged us to leave peacefully as they knew they couldn’t get us out; handed out chalk to the children whose parents had brought them; helped organize a few thousand times; met a 91 year old woman, and her daughter who have been at the square every day and they gave me a birthday card; zombie rallies, and more. Finally, we returned on March 9th, 2011 and Chief Tubbs asked us to leave again. Many left and marched around the capitol. This is the same night that the ones who chose not to leave were carried out. We left, started marching around the square peacefully singing. Someone decided it would be a good idea to go to the outer loop by going down West Washington and off the square one block, so we did. We had three police cruisers following us at about 5 miles an hour with their lights on and a hundred or so cars behind them, honking to the beat of ‘this is what Democracy looks like.’ That was one of the most incredible things that I have ever been involved with and I will live with that memory for the rest of my life. I am 24 and have been a diehard fanatic of the late Howard Zinn. Reading about the power of the people to stand up to the government, A Peoples History of the United States, has been an inspiration to me. We have just proven this man was right on target. I personally ask each and every one of you to not give up… to quote Bob Marley, “Don’t give up the fight.”
Middle & high schoolers walk out Thursday: March 10 / Simon Rosenblum-Larson
Word was circulating late on March 9th: the high school students were walking out. They wanted to make their voices heard against Governor Scott Walker’s bill to slash collective bargaining rights of teachers and other public employees. One of my friends called and said we should join them. I found it a little questionable—we middle school students leaving school to protest. I signed on to the idea, being the activist I like to call myself. Then began the organizing phase, “Maybe you could help get some other people in on the idea too,” He said. I went with the old phrase, the bigger, the better. Soon enough, I had sent a Facebook message to about 200 people. Many recipients took the opportunity to ask their parents and confirm attendance. I arrived at school and immediately many people had questions as well as people who had no idea what was going on. Face-to-face this time, I recruited friends to help spread the word. I made sure that all of the messengers told students why the situation needed our extreme political action. Our neighbors needed us to stop the attack on the bargaining and unionizing rights of not only our teachers, but any public sector worker. Eventually, it had spread through all three grade levels by word of mouth and the excitement mounted. As the time we had set to leave rolled around, there was an announcement over the PA system. “All students planning on walking out must have parent permission before leaving the school grounds.” Whispering quickly began. “How did the teachers find out?” “What do we do?” Soon enough we came to our senses and pulled out cellphones while teachers gave out passes for students to leave. Eventually every person that was planning on leaving had a pass. Those that were not leaving congratulated us for our political action as the crowd gathered at the front entrance. We left the school right on time at 9:30 AM, to begin our 4.8 mile journey to the State Capitol. As we marched, student chants filled the chilly air. There were about 90 kids on the move. We had to stop traffic at one busy intersection, but the help of a few kids standing in as crossing guards did wonders for us. I had called my friend Ari at West High to ask for them wait until we made it there. We arrived and the meeting place outside West was deserted. We picked up the pace in an attempt to catch up. As we reached the hill on Regent St. and Roby Rd., we finally saw the crowd. About 5,0006,000 students and parents from High Schools across the west side of Madison all marching with police escorts in the same act of solidarity we were. Our crowd became one with theirs as we became an enormous mass of liberty, freedom and justice.
Together, we arrived at the Capitol. Thousands of people were gathered inside and outside--each person making as much noise as possible. Vocal chords beginning to give, about 25 of us set up camp in the center of the marble floor. Using our backpacks as pillows, we taunted our Governor in hopes that he would break. Quickly, this “camp” expanded to about 80 kids from ages about 13 and up. An idea came to me as I sat among my peers. I recruited a friend to help me bring the idea to life. We used our loud voices to organize the group. We chose four to form the center and the lines speedily took shape. People filled in the outside of the circle and voila! An enormous peace sign on the rotunda floor. This act of solidarity led to many onlookers including newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal. I believe it made a major impact that day and for days to come. The idea came from an earlier action in my school. We staged a peaceful pro- march 11 test against teachers and their attempt to force us to sit with homerooms at lunch. After we had made our point clearly and restored some energy into ourselves, our crew headed upstairs. Outside the Assembly Chambers, a huge crowd of people was yelling their hearts out in hopes of changing the votes of Republican members. Meanwhile, the vote on Assembly Bill AB11, the bill which included cutting collective bargaining rights to public sector state employees, continued. That may have been the loudest I have heard that marble shake. Many minutes later, a man next to me received a text from a source inside the Assembly Chambers and showed it around the crowd “The bill just passed.” It was only about a minute before the news spread. A silence swept over the crowd that I hope to never experience again. All that optimism we had created together in the past hours seemed to vanish in that moment. That night, Representative Barca was silenced and the open meetings law was violated as the bill passed the Senate. Days later, one of our Dane County Judges, Maryann Sumi, put a stop to the madness on March 18 with a restraining order on the bill because of the violation of the open meetings law. With her action came the return of our optimism. The door opened to phase two of the movement, campaigns to recalling those who destroyed our spirits and silenced the voice of the people.
Above: A Friday rally.
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On Saturday, March 12th, building on the momentum of the occupation of the state capitol in Madison, hundreds of farmers from around the state organized the Wisconsin Tractorcade. It was a demonstration involving tractors circling the capitol up on the square that thousands of people participated in. There were labor unions present, teachers, and others from diverse branches of our movement. One of the chants was “Labor and Farmers Unite! Same fight!”, pointing out the need for numbers and unity in our struggles.
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Proudcommunity! We support the Member of
Keepin’ it alive
Our communities are coming together. Our walls are breaking down. It’s time to move past our comfort zones, into realms that are supportive, sharing, and cooperative. We may not see things the same way, but that’s a good thing, especially as we share skills. Trust fear of the unknown as a gateway to something better. These are the things that we did during the occupation. Many did not make it into the Wisconsin capitol , but for those who did, each day was a new beginning, minute by minute, in a space that was our own. Our consciousnesses grew and that was the real threat. We are creating autonomous zones (creative ones) that are open, like much of the capitol occupation (Our House). Temporary, shared spaces help us continue to talk and think for ourselves. Hallis Mailen has done this with his hunger strike zone from here in Madison to Washington DC. What else is needed? A General Strike would allow more poor, working people to join in the movement. We need to support each other with child care, food, necessities and stories--to be proactive, not reactive--as we put our bodies into the mix!
Don’t stop now
www.wisconsinwave.org www.defendingwisconsin.org - site of Jeremy Segway Ryan -- activist capitol reporter www.defendwisconsin.org www.madisoniww.org Democracy Addicts: www.demaa.org - meets every third weds at Hawk’s Bar, Madison Wisconsin Counts is a non-partisan organization working on election integrity issues in Wisconsin, with the goal of hand counted, paper ballots. Website coming soon. Presence at the Capitol: Hallis Mailen’s hunger Strike Direct Actions with and without arrests Red heart-shaped Balloons / Banners / Diane Information Stand Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice: www.wnpj.org - Noon Solidarity Sing-a-longs R.A.A.N. space holders: www.redanarchist.org www.peoplesrightscampaign.org On Facebook: Shit Scott Walker Is Doing To My State : www.facebook.com/Shitscottwalker Autonomous Solidarity Organization: www.facebook.com/asolidarity Recall efforts: Wisconsin Recall: www.wisconsinrecall.net AND http://recallscottwalker.org/ United Wisconsin: www.unitedwisconsin.com Facebook: Signature Collector Sign up www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=143902302366047 Facebook: Grassroots people to recall Gov. Walker
On July 4th, 2011, protesters from the February occupation, ran into the capitol with red, heart-shaped balloons and released them. The balloons soared to the top of the rotunda while others were singing and chanting, “Independence! Independence from the United States of America. We have our own freedom, we have our own happiness. May all beings be free of suffering. May all beings be happy. OM.” DB Pederson was throat-singing as the balloons were released into our house, our temple, our space! Police chased the two balloon-bearers down the hallway where they tackled and arrested them. Remaining protesters continued to sing and chant, hoping the balloonbearers were okay. Our People’s House again became free from any visible presence of the police and we had re-occupied, even if only for a brief moment. Every minute counts. Occupying places of government and corporate power is key to changing the world. Keep taking up space, Wisconsin, and keep inspiring others to do the same!
Yellow Brick Roads and Red Balloons
Photo by callen harty | photo editing by jenna pope
There’s no place like home. Oz Collective Madison Infoshop 1019 Williamson St., Madison WI 53703 www.occupationzine.org firstname.lastname@example.org 2nd edition: October 7, 2011