By Contributor on January 28, 2014

By Jonathan Rosenblum

When citizen rescuer Carlos Arredondo of Boston visits the halls of Congress at the request of the President of the United States, it will actually be the second time since the Boston Marathon bombing that he will have stood solemnly near the epicenter of a state's capitol building.

On August 7, 2013, Arredondo was in Madison, Wisconsin, standing with protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol as they sang their objections to Governor Scott Walker's union-busting, budget-cutting ways.

However, because Walker essentially banned the regular gathering, called the "Solidarity Sing Along," Arredondo and his wife, Melida, were facing arrest by the State Capitol police because the group did not have a permit for their free speech activities.

Arredondo, who'd given a speech earlier in the day at a local Veterans for Peace conference, was not arrested. Still, he joined the protesters after the event to pose for a "Wanted" photo. His face was added to the series of images designed by attorney Jim Murray, meant to mock Walker's Capitol access crackdown.

Of course, Arredondo kept his famous white cowboy hat squarely on his head.

Carlos Arredondo on wanted poster

He told journalist Arthur Kohl-Riggs that he came to the Capitol to support the Solidarity Sing Along. "They have a right to speak out and come to their own house and say what they need to say," he said. "This is their constitutional right... It's important for citizens to participate and make a difference."

His wife Melida added that she was particularly outraged after police arrested a group called "The Raging Grannies," among all the rest. "I see no problem with taking a lunch break and doing some singing."

Watch:

In all, Walker's new rules resulted in 186 arrests and over 400 citations worth over $100,000 in fines. Talk about paying a price for free speech.

Melida noted that both of Carlos's sons had died: one in Iraq, and another who committed suicide several years later. She told the Solidarity Sing Along they now "live our lives to make an example."

A few weeks after the Arredondo visit, the ACLU entered into negotiations with the State Department of Justice and came away with an agreement, in addition to $80,000 in legal fees, that stopped enforcement of Walker's speech-restricting dictate.

The sing along continues these days without interruption. Walker's Republican friends should be thanking their lucky stars for that, too: If the arrests hadn't stopped, Wisconsin's most dedicated activists would have spent Tuesday singing Pete Seeger songs, like "If I Had a Hammer," honoring the late progressive folk singer as Walker's Capitol enforcers hauled them away in handcuffs, one by one.

Now wouldn't that have been something to see?

Correction: This story was amended to clarify that Arredondo was invited to the State of the Union by Obama; he did not stand during the speech to be recognized by the President.

Jonathan Rosenblum is an attorney and writer. He occasionally plays second fiddle, and participates in the Solidarity Sing Along.

Photo: Andrea Bilger.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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