Do Americans, even in anxious times, prefer an optimistic leader or an angry one?
Around 300 people showed up for the Solidarity Sing Along this noon at the capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. The crowd was several times larger than the one yesterday, as protesters gathered to defy the police crackdown.
Just as they did yesterday, police officers insisted on making about two dozen arrests for gathering in the capitol without a permit.
Moving in with teams of six or seven officers, the capitol police arrested three or four people at a time whom they had singled out.
Robert Koenig was arrested while his ten-year-old daughter was trying to hold his hand. With her other hand, she held a sign that said, "This Is What Democracy Looks Like!"
"Rights are just like muscles," Koenig says. "If you don't use them, they atrophy."
"Shame, shame, shame!" the crowd yelled each time as police handcuffed the peaceful protesters.
"I feel sorry for you that you have to do this," one demonstrator told the officers.
Like yesterday, today there were several Democratic lawmakers in attendance, showing their support for the Solidarity Singers, who have been gathering every day in the capitol for two and a half years to protest Scott Walker's reactionary policies.
Sen. Bob Jauch was present again.
And Sen. Tim Cullen was also there, denouncing the crackdown.
"I think it's outrageous," he said. "This is a beautiful thing. It doesn't disrupt the capitol. I love the songs." Cullen said the Walker administration was displaying "the same mentality" of bullying that it is displaying up north with its aggressive support for mining in the Penokee Hills.
Cullen predicted that Walker and his cohorts wouldn't be able to get away with the suppression of free speech in the capitol.
"They won't prevail," Cullen said. "This is America."
Members of the state assembly, including Diane Hesselbein, Sondra Pope-Roberts, Melissa Sargent, and Chris Taylor, also showed their solidarity.
"It's hard to describe how absurd this is," said Pope-Roberts. "It's almost like a page out of the Onion."
"I'm here because I firmly believe in the right to petition the government," said Sargent, who was there with her son Devin. "Everyone is being peaceful, and people's voices need to be heard."
Many protesters carried inventive signs. Peppi Elder had one of Scott Walker pointing and saying, "Hey, You...Singer with a Sign! You're Under Arrest."
Elder tries to come to the Sing Along three times a week, she says, because "Scott Walker is ruining the state of Wisconsin."
The Sing Along ended with "Solidarity Forever" and many vows to come back.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Zimmerman Verdict Reveals Racist System of Justice.
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