By Matthew Rothschild on August 25, 2011

Activism returned to Madison, WI, on Thursday as 13 protesters ended up being arrested after refusing to leave the capitol building after another demonstration against Governor Scott Walker.

They were charged with unlawful assembly, and some also were charged with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer, said Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs.

“There is a difference between being nice and docile, between being nonviolent and being used,” said Damon, one of the protesters who was arrested.

“This is the people standing up saying, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore,’ ” said one woman who was also arrested.

“Are you going to sit there and wave signs, or are you going to do something that makes a difference?” said another person before being arrested.

The arrests occurred after about 1,000 people massed in front of the capitol at 5:00 p.m. to protest the fact that Walker’s cuts in take-home pay were actually taking effect today.

Bill Franks, a senior steward for AFT-Wisconsin, told those in the crowd to back their unions.

“We’re going to redemocratize Wisconsin,” Franks said, to loud applause. “The dogs of recall are on the governor’s tail. I say it’s time to release the hounds.”

Labor troubadour Anne Feeney, bald from her fight with cancer, gamely led the crowd in her signature song, “War on the Workers.” She told the crowd: “The world is watching you, Wisconsin. It’s time to send Scott Walker packing and give Wisconsin back to the people.”

Angenette Wilder, secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 538 at Oscar Mayer, told me her union, even though it’s in the private sector and not directly affected by Walker’s cuts, has solidly backed the public sector workers.

“We’ve been here since day one,” said Wilder. “Walker made a calculated decision. He thought we wouldn’t fight together. But we did.”

Shortly before 6:00 p.m., most of the crowd—about 650 people—walked into the capitol and gathered in the rotunda.

People chanted: “This is what democracy looks like,” and “Whose house? Our house,” and “How do you fix the deficit? Tax, tax, tax the rich,” and “Union Power!” and “United we stand, united we fall, an injury to one is an injury to all” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Scott Walker has got to go.”

Feeney led the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Solidarity Forever.”

Chief Tubbs urged the protest leaders to tell the crowd to leave before he would have to make arrests because, under Walker’s administration, the capitol now closes at 6:00 p.m.

“Please don’t ruin what you guys have done,” Tubbs said.

The protesters then discussed whether to stay or go.

Ultimately, 12 adults and one minor decided to stay.

Tubbs and other capitol police and state troopers asked them several more times to leave on their accord, as did a police officer twice over the Intercom, but they refused.

“Attention please,” the voice on the Intercom said. “The capitol is now closed. We ask you to leave at the nearest exit. Thank you for visiting the state capitol.”

Chief Tubbs pleaded with the protesters one final time.

“I’m asking you, as nice as I can, please leave,” he said.

Madison Protest

And one of the protesters, sitting down in a circle in the rotunda, responded: “We’re saying, as nice as we can, no.”

The remaining protesters started to sing songs, including “Have you been to jail for justice? Then you’re a friend of mine.” They also sang a few bars of “What a Wonderful World” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

Thi Le, one of the thirteen, called the officers “shameful” for what they were doing. “It’s disgusting,” she said.

Starting around 7:00 p.m., officers started making arrests one at a time. A few of the demonstrators stood up and walked with the officers out of the rotunda. Most went limp and had to be dragged out.

“We had the numbers,” Damon said shortly before being carried away. “But now we don’t.” Still, he said it was important for a few of them at least to get arrested. “There is the option of saying no,” he explained. “The only options aren’t the ones that are socially acceptable.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "NYPD and CIA Need to Be Investigated."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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Dubbed “Ferguson to Madison,” the rally drew striking social parallels between the two cities.

Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by the police in the United States.

Darren Wilson is free to go back to his job policing the citizens of Ferguson, if he wants. Michael Brown is dead...

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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