Wisconsin protests: updates and discussion

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 3 2011 05:16

I guess the disruption was organized by Voces de la Frontera, an immigrants rights group whose executive director talked favorably about strike action months ago at a AFL-CIO group founding that some fellow travelers and IWWers interrupted. This is the press release.

Quote:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 2, 2011

COMMUNITY ALLIES HOLD CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE TO DEFEND PUBLIC EDUCATION AND IN-STATE TUITION RIGHTS

MADISON- Today fifty concerned Wisconsinites engaged in an organized, non-violent civil disobedience to halt passage of the state budget, demanding restoration of the cuts to eduction and in-state tuition for immigrant youth.

(Please see the statement that was read out loud by each participant at the bottom of the page)

Joined by hundreds of supporters, a coalition of parents, students, educators, teaching assistants and members of the interfaith community were dragged from a public Joint Finance Committee hearing while reading statements calling for economic and educational justice.

Kicking off the action were four prominent community leaders: Jesus Salas, former UW Regent; Larry Miller, Director on the Milwaukee Public School Board; Al Levie, Racine high school teacher and REA union member; and Christine Neumann-Ortíz, Voces de la Frontera executive director.

The disruption stopped the committee for an extended period of time as police carried off speaker after speaker, who refused to let injustice and austerity become law without resistance.

For three months the JFC has railroaded their vision of a deeply unequal Wisconsin through the budget process.

They have disregarded widespread opposition to their proposed cuts to education, environment, workers, healthcare and other vital public services. Today the Republicans on the committee delayed the hearing for 5 hours, afraid to face the public backlash.

Inspired by the direct action taken by the coalition, an interfaith community rally on the Capitol steps spontaneously marched inside to further disrupt the JFC hearing.

Led by Minister Greg Lewis of St Gabriel's Church of God and Christ, Rev Willie Brisco of MICAH, and Rabbi Renee Bauer of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, this crowd of 200 packed the hallway, sang, and held a prayer service outside the locked committee room. The spontaneous decision to take up direct action signals Wisconsinites desire to escalate the struggle.

The call has been raised for Wisconsinities to take direct action and civil disobedience to stop the vote on Walker's budget.

It is imperative for us to return to the Capitol to continue to take action against the passage of this destructive budget. The action today is a call to you to join us at the Joint Finance Committee meeting tomorrow and every day that it reconvenes.

and here is what people got up and yelled before being arrested or dragged out

Quote:
STATEMENT READ BY EACH PARTICIPANT IN TODAY'S ACTION

Senator Darling and Senator Vos:

You are complicit in moving Governor Walker's anti-public education budget forward.

We are here today to vehemently oppose this education budget and the process by which you have rammed this budget forward. Holding four public hearings in remote areas during work and school hours is not democracy.

Slashing funds for public education and removing the ability for undocumented students to pay instate tuition rates is mean spirited and immoral.

We demand that public education dollars be restored and that all students living in our state pay in-state tuition rates.

You are taking from the poor to give to the rich. Your actions are unconscionable. Shame on you. You take food out of the mouths of children by cutting reduced breakfast programs while at the same time transferring public money from public schools through an expanded voucher program for the education of wealthy families.

This budget is a budget of the have nots and the have mores.

You are destroying the American Dream for working class and immigrant children in our state.

You justify your actions claiming there is not enough money. You justify your actions claiming immigrant children are taking limited resources from US citizen children.

These claims are unfounded. You refuse to implement a fair taxation for large corporations and the wealthy that would address the budget gap-that is not even that big. You are willing to deny opportunity to immigrant youth who are struggling to study hard to achieve college admission and pay their own way.

You are violating the norms of a civilized society when you invest more in incarceration than in public education.

You promised job creation, yet your budget forces school districts to give pink slips to teachers, school nurses, educational assistants, teaching assistants, social workers, maintenance workers, food workers, among many others.

You promise job creation yet you undermine our ability to produce an educated, diverse, and talented workforce.

To the people of Wisconsin, join us-it is our duty as citizens to resist the passage and implementation of this unjust budget.

Surtrsflame
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Jun 3 2011 18:12

Today's statement by the student group which yesterday was so quick to denounce these protests. I think between the flak that a number of their supporters gave them, and then Jeremy Ryan's (the director of 'Defending Wisconsin' a reformist PAC formed to work on the recalls) harsh treatment of the establishment twits who were so quick to condemn Voces de la Frontera's action, ASO realized that they made a strategic mistake. I think they showed their true colors.

Quote:
On Thursday afternoon, Voces De La Frontera organized an act of civil disobedience at the Wisconsin State Capitol to bring the Republicans’ attack on education to the forefront of public attention. During Thursday’s Joint Finance Committee meeting, dozens of citizens were removed for peacefully reading statements and voicing their support for public education—an institution which our founders helped create and protect.

During this direct action, members of the Autonomous Solidarity Organization were among those removed from the Joint Finance Committee hearing. Their actions were not officially sanctioned by the ASO. However, some of our members decided to speak up as a way of autonomously acting in solidarity with other citizens who share our struggle. As an organization dedicated to protecting people’s rights and achieving social justice, we stand behind any peaceful effort to ensure that the public becomes aware of our government’s actions when those actions attack our most vulnerable citizens and the future leaders of our great nation. It is reprehensible to deny anyone their right to an education or to construct obstacles that all but ensure that higher education is out of reach for lower and middle-class families.

We encourage those of you who value our state’s education system to take advantage of your first amendment right to peaceably assemble and tell our legislators that education must be protected.

Samotnaf
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Jun 3 2011 20:00
Quote:
the future leaders of our great nation.

Yeah - didn't SuperBill Clinton arselick his way up from fairly humble beginnings through the State edoocashun system to become one? Grate indeed (and inafterdinnerspeaking).....

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Jun 3 2011 22:16

What's hilarious is that the group was formed by students who were occupying the damn capitol building! It's not like a small disruption of a joint finance committee meeting is out of left field compared to that. I think though it has more to do with the fact that it pissed off Democrats. ASO does stray into electoral stuff, and like I said, its an eclectic group. There's some pretty solid people in there, but there's also people I spotted right away as future Democrat operatives. During the short-lived occupation at the university here, some of those people erased the group's name off a chalkboard with all the various organizations that were taking part in the occupation. There's folks that are very paranoid about being associated with any action that is out of the norm or could be controversial.

There's also a general sentiment from liberals that we shouldn't do anything that might mess up the recall efforts.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens in the coming days and weeks with this. While the recall tactic has reached near dominance, there are still a number of active people in the coalition groups who are annoyed at its dominance. Some of these folks were against all the concessions from the start and some of them were pro-general strike. It seems as if the demobilization and the dominance of the recall disorientated them for a while, but now they're regrouping and willing to do stuff outside that. But the atmosphere is different than it was March 12. And people within the movement's willingness to condemn others who step out of line is more prevalent, as we've seen.

The city approved the planned 'Walkerville' tent city. Notable that the group that requested the permit pretty much came out and said they were going to violate the restrictions on the permit.

The JFC meeting last night voted on various changes to police and firefighters benefits and I think approved a two tier system with them too.

Surtrsflame
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Jun 4 2011 04:51

Those who are firm members of the Dems were pissed simply as a matter of party line and following because it was condemned on the floor by Jauch and Taylor. There's a lot of people mad because it's negative attention, and this could lose some independents and former Republicans. While on the surface it's all about the recalls, this runs deeper, and is a part of the liberals and progressives being part of the establishment.

From what I've experienced in progressive and liberal groups, people are scared shitless of direct action. They don't understand it. They may understand the motives, but they just can't imagine breaking with the establishment and going against it to make gains. The way they were condemning Voces is very disturbing. People I expected to at least show some sense of solidarity were adamantly against it. I think the aftermath of this shows how weak we truly are.

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Jun 4 2011 07:47

Some more condemning

Quote:
Disruption of Joint Finance Committee hurts #wiunion protest movement
http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=33712
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Jun 5 2011 03:13

Budget bill passed the JFC, now it will be sent to the assembly, then the senate. It cuts spending on public schools and the university system, gives tax breaks to businesses, and provides an increase in capitol security funding. It also introduces a two tier pay system for police and fire fighters.

Pictures of 'Walkerville': http://www.flickr.com/photos/wisaflcio/sets/72157626762209285/

Surtrsflame
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Jun 5 2011 04:51

That Isthmus editorial was was painful to read. Theres a long line of people commenting "cosigned", Mr. Communications director of the ASO is one of them. Of those not simply writing "Cosigned", many are stating that condemning Voces is not a smart maneuver. I think having Ryan come out in favor of Voces' action was helpful, and may have swung a number of the liberals who are closely following the events at the capitol. I think those that watched it on the nightly news, as well as the party line fuckers, are primarily the ones against it.

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Jun 5 2011 05:02

One of the leaders of Defending Wisconsin PAC, who also was a delegate at the Democrat convention this weekend I believe, has been the target of other Dems pissed at him for his supposed leading role in the disruption. There;s been some sort of campaign to get him removed from a number of liberal Facebook groups, plus some other stuff I don't know about. It's weird to know about such things at that level.

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Jun 5 2011 06:14
Surtrsflame wrote:
Today's statement by the student group which yesterday was so quick to denounce these protests. I think between the flak that a number of their supporters gave them, and then Jeremy Ryan's (the director of 'Defending Wisconsin' a reformist PAC formed to work on the recalls) harsh treatment of the establishment twits who were so quick to condemn Voces de la Frontera's action, ASO realized that they made a strategic mistake. I think they showed their true colors.
Quote:
On Thursday afternoon, Voces De La Frontera organized an act of civil disobedience at the Wisconsin State Capitol to bring the Republicans’ attack on education to the forefront of public attention. During Thursday’s Joint Finance Committee meeting, dozens of citizens were removed for peacefully reading statements and voicing their support for public education—an institution which our founders helped create and protect.

During this direct action, members of the Autonomous Solidarity Organization were among those removed from the Joint Finance Committee hearing. Their actions were not officially sanctioned by the ASO. However, some of our members decided to speak up as a way of autonomously acting in solidarity with other citizens who share our struggle. As an organization dedicated to protecting people’s rights and achieving social justice, we stand behind any peaceful effort to ensure that the public becomes aware of our government’s actions when those actions attack our most vulnerable citizens and the future leaders of our great nation. It is reprehensible to deny anyone their right to an education or to construct obstacles that all but ensure that higher education is out of reach for lower and middle-class families.

We encourage those of you who value our state’s education system to take advantage of your first amendment right to peaceably assemble and tell our legislators that education must be protected.

What liberal garbage. One of the biggest problems of Walker's education plan is to remove almost all opportunites for non-"citizens".

syndicalist
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Jun 6 2011 21:03

removed by syndicalist

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Jun 6 2011 02:45
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Wisconsin activists create Walkerville to taunt governor, tout change

(CNN) -- Eighty years after Hoovervilles sprung up around the county, and four months after tens of thousands descended on the Wisconsin state capitol, progressives have a new home in what they're calling Walkerville.

The Madison tent city is named in honor -- or, more accurately, in defiance -- of Gov. Scott Walker, who became an icon for conservatives and lightning rod for liberals after he pushed through a controversial new collective bargaining law earlier this year.

David Boetcher, one of Walkerville's coordinators, said the aim is to recapture the spirit of Hoovervilles, the shanty towns that popped up and were named to tweak President Herbert Hoover's perceived inaction in the Great Depression's early years. Since Saturday night's kick-off, about 80 tents have sprung up in and around State Street in Madison, with a handful of people sticking it out throughout but mostly fresh rounds of activists rotating through on a daily basis.

"Just like the original Hoovervilles in the 1930s, we wanted to create that type of atmosphere without being destructive," said Boetcher, a government affairs coordinator for the IBEW union.

Some major differences, of course, are that Walkerville will only be up for two weeks, its participants generally can go home, and it is more of a staged political event. Boetcher noted that, unlike the February protests, this edition is carefully planned with permits, rules, a schedule of speakers and a conscious effort to make a point without disrupting local businesses.

There's a new theme each day: On Sunday, for instance, protests focused on planned $800 million cuts to K-12 education. And one of the most anticipated moments will be Monday, when hundreds of firefighters -- who were exempted from Walker's original collective bargaining law, but could see cuts in its more recent incarnation -- are expected to march in Madison.

It is highly unlikely that organizers, at any point, will match the tens of thousands who, at times, occupied the capitol building in protest this winter. Times have changed, as have public sentiments and strategies. Much of their efforts recently centered around recall petitions aimed at ousting several Republican senators and turning the chamber over to Democrats.

"There was this immediacy and a real intensity at the beginning," recalled Kerry Motoviloff, the head of Madison's teachers' union. "That intensity is still in people's hearts, but now we've entered the next phase for the long term. ... And Walkerville is just another way for us to get the message out."

One major goal, and challenge, with events like Walkerville is to keep up pressure on Walker and other Republican leaders without alienating independents who will eventually decide whether to affirm or reject their decisions, Boetcher said.

"The idea is to balance between a group's right to protest vs. acting in such a manner that people this is too irritating, we don't agree with it," he said. "(The general public) doesn't want to talk about people being arrested. And (demonstrators) know what the rules are this time."

Progressive leaders in Wisconsin insist their message is getting through, including among independents who might have voted for Walker but have since soured on his and Republican tactics in addressing the budget situation.

"There's an incredible amount of frustration," said Steve Hanson, a progressive blogger in northwest Wisconsin. "There is a basic feeling that all these laws are going to be rammed through the legislature, and there's nothing you can do about it."

Yet for all this talk on the left, there's been no change in who controls Madison -- Republicans -- nor any indication that they intend to back down. Whether it has to do with collective bargaining, voting requirements or a host of other matters, the GOP still has the upper hand as it's proven in pushing through a host of measures in the months after the February confrontation.

And Walker, especially, continues to be a darling of the nationwide conservative movement, as does like-minded Wisconsin Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan. In April, Sarah Palin urged others nationwide to follow Madison's example in targeting the benefits and pay of unions, despite intense pressure.

"This is where real courage and real solidarity can be found," the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee said. "You saw these violent rent-a-mobs trash your capital and vandalize businesses. You held your ground. Your governor did the same thing. And you won."

The law that sharply curbs the collective bargaining rights of most state employees remains the biggest, most critical piece in the fight.

Republicans insist that the measure is necessary to control skyrocketing public employee benefit costs and close a $137 million budget shortfall. Democrats argue that it is little more than an attempt to gut public-sector labor unions, one of their core constituencies.

On Monday, Wisconsin's Supreme Court is set to weigh whether or not they will take up the battle over the law, weeks after Wisconsin Judge Maryann Sumi struck it down. State Democratic leaders claim that Republican legislators violated the state's open meetings law by calling a committee meeting to amend Walker's budget bill without providing the necessary public 24-hour advance notice. Democrats say they were given only two hours' notice.

While the court will have their say, Boetcher says the long-term vision is to use events like Walkerville to reach those in the middle and convince them that they're better off voting out Republicans like the governor.

"This isn't about changing the minds of the Republican legislature," said Boetcher, claiming they've turned a "deaf ear" to such protests. "The ear we want to reach is the Wisconsin voter."

Still for all the speeches, events and acrimony on all sides of the debate -- and for all the twists and turns that have marked the past six months -- even diehard political junkies like Hanson say it is nearly impossible to predict how this political saga will unfold.

"I wake up every morning and there are surprises," Hanson said. "So I'm not sure at all, where we'll be six months from now, or one year or two years."

http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/06/05/wisconsin.walkerville/index.html

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Jun 6 2011 03:09
Surtrsflame wrote:
Sorry about missing that, I clicked reply after #293 and then got distracted before posting.

I'm rather angry about the ASO's post against civil disobedience. I thought maybe by coming out of the capitol occupation they wouldn't be quite so lame...

Civil disobedience and occupations are what's been called collective bargaining by other means.

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Jun 6 2011 03:10
x359594 wrote:
Surtrsflame wrote:
...I'm rather angry about the ASO's post against civil disobedience. I thought maybe by coming out of the capitol occupation they wouldn't be quite so lame...

Civil disobedience and occupations are what's been called collective bargaining by other means.

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Jun 6 2011 11:10

"Progressives", eh....

David in Atlanta
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Jun 6 2011 19:12

From what Juan and another friend on facebook just posted via mobile, they just reoccupied the capitol!

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Jun 6 2011 20:24

Clusterfuck today. Blockades wilted away, lots of confusion and plans changed with little communication. Protesters and police got into a shoving match at a bank. Some students got left out to hang at a blockade and 2 of them were arrested.

People went back into the capitol. The entrance got open and people ran in and police started slamming people to the ground, including journalists. 6 detained at the capitol. Everyone has been cited and released by now.

Keep in mind this is way more people arrested than any time before.

Don't think anyone is at the capitol anymore

Pix: http://on.fb.me/iCAKcn

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Jun 6 2011 22:19

Video of two arrests at the capitol
http://youtu.be/Zsdhsi8EswE

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Jun 7 2011 02:34

Pic of people pushin the doors that the cops were holdin to get in capitol

Quote:
Five arrested at state Capitol on Monday

Five people were arrested at the state Capitol on Monday as the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether a bill taking away collective bargaining rights legally passed the Legislature.

Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said four people were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct after trying to enter the building without stopping for police clearance through metal detectors.

A fifth person was arrested and cited for trying to prop open a door presumably so others could enter later to avoid police, Tubbs said.

There were no reports of weapons or violence, said Capitol police spokeswoman Lori Getter.

Also on Monday, Madison police cited two people for disorderly conduct following a disturbance inside the foyer of M&I bank, 1 W. Main St. Police said about 30 protesters entered the area between two doors leading into the bank and were told they needed to leave or be arrested. One officer suffered a sprained wrist during a struggle with a demonstrator.

Three demonstrators also were cited for obstructing a roadway after they refused to get out of the street, police said.

Tubbs said 27 people were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct for interrupting Friday’s session of the Joint Finance Committee. All received warnings before their arrests, he said, adding, “They felt they had a passion and they had to do it.”

No problems had been reported in the Supreme Court chamber where legal arguments took place Monday, he said. Passage of the bill at issue had attracted tens of thousands of people to the Capitol in February and March.

About 75 people listened to the arguments, but most were attorneys.

Tubbs said Capitol Police have not had any problems associated with the “Walkerville” protest encampment that began Saturday on city property across from the Capitol.

“People seem to understand our responsibility as law enforcement,” he said.

“What we’re doing is trying to maintain a high degree of security for the Capitol,” Tubbs said, including knowing who’s going in and out and what they’re bringing into the building.

“We are looking into the possibility of opening more doors,” he said, adding, “We have not reached that point.”

Currently, just two of the Capitol’s doors are open.

Tubbs also said the metal detectors installed during the height of the protests might be here to stay.

With temperatures in the 90s expected to continue through Wednesday, Tubbs said, there are concerns that tensions could also heat up. He stressed the importance for people who are out in the heat to have adequate food and fresh water and to limit alcohol consumption.

Tubbs said Capitol Police will be re-evaluating staffing needs with 10 vacancies from recent retirements and officers leaving for other jobs. Currently, 41 out of 51½ full-time positions are filled.

The number of retirements this year is greater than in the past three years, he said, adding that the unrest surrounding Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to eliminate most collective bargaining rights for most public employees and other budget proposals has likely contributed to some retirements.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_af1275b6-9081-11e0-8525-001cc4c002e0.html

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Jun 7 2011 02:37

So, I'm not sure exactly what happened, as everything and everybody was a bit confused, but here goes, based on what I've heard.

There were blockades planned for today at various intersections around the capitol, the aim was to shut down the streets and block traffic in the area around the capitol. Not sure how long this had been planned, but apparently not long enough. Of course, from my experience at the RNC, you don't know exactly what you're getting into with this stuff without doing it or doing a lot of planning with more experienced people

Two mistakes I think were made off the bat: The police and mayor were given the heads up but the plans weren't publicly put out there, which meant a minority of people even knew blockades were planned.

I think also certain union locals and others who committed to doing stuff backed down earlier today. It was also pretty hot, felt like 90-95 degrees. So going around the capitol twice lost some people.

There was action at a bank which is known as supporter of Walker where there was a confrontation and shoving matches between police and protesters. That changed the tone of the police completely towards everyone. Where previously they were going to be lenient with the blockades, they turned against them. At some point, 2 people in the group that planned this seemingly called the blockades off, with no consulting of others and little explanation.

I don't even think all the planned blockades happened, but the one I saw, which consisted of a Steelworker RV and a private car blocking an intersection melted away after a brief conversation with police. This was right about the time the bulk of the crowd showed up. I think at some point the police ordered the street to be cleared and everyone melted away, except a core of mostly students who were wondering why they weren't being backed up. 3 of them got arrested (2 of them were black of course). I think they're pissed at the whole situation.

At some point some plans changed or some of the planner's plans changed and then people were rushing the capitol building. Somehow they got the doors open and people started running inside. Police started slamming people to the ground and arrested 6 people, including 2 journalists and 2 medics. Keep in mind that there were whole weeks here in the past with 100,000 protesters on the weekend and regularly 1,000-20,000 on the weekdays with 0-2 arrests. Today there were probably 2,000-3,000 people at noon on a Monday, so not bad. By the time I got to the capitol, the police got control, and there was a line to get in, with metal detectors and all that. There was maybe 30-40 people in there singing. A left after 20 minutes or so.

Really I think a lot of this comes down to those that planned this have never done anything like this before. I'm not saying the RNC blockades were super succesful (although we did run downtown for like 3 hours) or even the same thing (there were National Guard, rubber bullets, violence, property destruction, mass arrests), but why tell the cops and mayor your plans, but not make them public. Seems like a certain element of using people as canon fodder to me. Also, this means there was not separation of time and space. Doing illegal actions requires a certain amount of preparation. Legal, mental, etc. You can't just say in the middle of permitted, regular march, "Oh, we're doing blockades, wanna join?" There may be some circumstances in which this will work, but I would guess this would be a minority.

Anyway, while I think today was a failure, I think it's more because of inexperience and im curious to see where everything goes from here.

Samotnaf
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Jun 7 2011 02:49
Quote:
I'm not saying the RNC blockades were super succesful (although we did run downtown for like 3 hours) or even the same thing (there were National Guard, rubber bullets, violence, property destruction, mass arrests)

I missed this: when did this happen?

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Jun 7 2011 02:59
Samotnaf wrote:
Quote:
I'm not saying the RNC blockades were super succesful (although we did run downtown for like 3 hours) or even the same thing (there were National Guard, rubber bullets, violence, property destruction, mass arrests)

I missed this: when did this happen?

2008 in Minnesota

Surtrsflame
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Jun 7 2011 05:19

I was able to make it down for today, and it was a major change from the other protests I had been able to go to. The last one of those was late March. The march starting at the firestation was tense even before it started. The first time the march passed the M&I bank there were 3 officers standing by the doors. On the second pass, the fire department appeared to initiate the anti-M&I actions. After a while, there was a scuffle, which I had a hard time seeing. The cops were wearing fluorescent vests which could be seen and were making violent motions. One protester was lying on his back and had clearly been knocked down by a cop, he was yelling at them for their actions but they were busy kicking out the protesters. It seemed to me that the cops initiated, and some of the protestors fought back, ending in a couple arrests. 3 other police ran in from the streets to help out. An officer was overheard when I was entering the capitol stating that the state patrol had arrived a half hour ago, which would correspond to just after the the M&I incident.

Just after I entered the capitol, I saw the journalist being hauled away by the cop, as shown in the video posted above by Juan. There is a point in that video where a guy off camera is saying "don't touch me I'm just standing here" (he may have been the guy taping that upload). What's not seen is that he starts being harassed by a State Patrol. The state patrol let him alone and 'helped' the bald cop get the two journalists in the elevator.

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Jun 7 2011 06:47

Yeah, I concur, the atmosphere was a lot more angrier and tense, although that might have had to do with the confusion and apprehension though.

I think the supreme court election might have pushed those who were on the fence with the electoral stuff towards direct action. I've kind of dropped out of the wider movement for the most part (lot of personal stuff goin on), so its hard to gauge.

I do see various points of separation emerging though. The problem is that I'm not sure if people are prepared to be called out by the recall folks. I think there's a real possibility of the type of stuff we've seen in the past, most recently with the Oscar Grant stuff, where liberals attempt to marginalize those outside their agreement.

A part of me is in favor of pushing something like the St.Paul Principles:

Quote:
At an anti-RNC conference held over the weekend of February 9th and 10th, a broad spectrum of groups revealed what are being called the “St. Paul Principles” of unity for resisting the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC).

Key organizations including the RNC Welcoming Committee and The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War are signed onto the principles which seek to unite and strengthen the partnerships amongst those planning to confront the RNC.

This is a departure from the sectarian squabbles that have plagued past years’ anti-convention organizing. Pitting groups of differing political beliefs against each other has been a frequent tactic of state repression since the days of COINTELPRO.

By drafting the principles together, the co-signing organizations are taking historic steps to actively extinguish divisiveness from their respective groups. The principles will ensure respect for the soon-to-be-permitted march on September 1 by people planning non-permitted activities, and in turn, participants in the September 1 march will adhere to the principles and do nothing to sow division among the many activists coming to the Twin Cities to protest the RNC.

The principles are:

1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.

2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.

3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.

4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.

The RNC Welcoming Committee, The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, The Anti-war Committee, SDS-U of MN, Communities United Against Police Brutality, The Welfare Rights Committee, and Unconventional Action – Chicago were among the first to sign on to these principles. As other groups sign on to these principles, a unified, effective, and radical front will form.

But this was for a different purpose and event and has problems of its own. I guess I'm just worried that this emerging direct action tendency is too weak to survive condemnations and attempted isolation efforts by the dominant recall faction.

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Jun 7 2011 07:03

So wait, who organized these actions? And who gave the cops/mayor the plans first?

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Jun 7 2011 08:00
Chilli Sauce wrote:
So wait, who organized these actions? And who gave the cops/mayor the plans first?

The group who organized the march, the blockades and the bank action is a coalition group that's been around as long as I've been here. It's a pretty loose group, actually reminds me of most synthesis anarchist groups. Most of the people heavily involved are union local staff or elected position holders, but with a lot of involvement from some nonprofit staff, rank and file union members and nonunion workers who are involved in other groups. It's pretty much one of those groups where people with visibility or 'cred' are listened to and given more talking time, while unknowns, etc have a hard time getting their word in. Whoever shows up to ameeting can vote, etc.

This group gave the cops/mayor the heads up

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 7 2011 20:12
Quote:
Why Did Soglin Call in the Cops on Union Protesters?

Yesterday’s march from Madison’s Fire Station 1 to the Walkerville camp and around the Capitol – stopping by the criminal M&I Bank along the way – was an inspiring spectacle, but things should have turned out better.

Among the marchers were dozens of participating vehicles – fire trucks, union cabs, tractors, AFSCME vehicles – that drove around the Capitol Square. The original plan was to use these vehicles to surround the square, blockading it and utilizing it as a space for political protest in the same way it was during the original protests over the collective bargaining law.

The story hasn’t been recounted in any local media outlets that I’ve seen, but this outline of the day’s activities had been approved by Mayor Paul Soglin in discussion with union leaders. The agreement was that the protest vehicles would be allowed to to block off the various entrances to the the Capitol Square, not allowing any other traffic in the area for most of the day. The agreement stipulated that the police would not interfere in this activity.

However, upon entering the square, protesters quickly learned this is not how things were going to play out. Union Cabs were told to leave the square after circling it one time. Other vehicles were ticketed. At the State St entrance, two protesters were arrested.

What happened?

From the various accounts, it’s become clear that Soglin, who was at the march’s starting point at the fire station, reneged on his promises to the unions, directing the Madison police of the change in plans about 30 minutes before the march began. Naturally, he made this call without talking with any of the protest organizers.

I can only conclude that, given the relatively small size of the protest (perhaps a thousand people or so), Soglin decided that the resistance to his reversal wouldn’t be particularly potent, and so his political calculation was to side with “law and order” over those resisting the governor’s agenda. From a purely political standpoint, his decision was probably the right one (in the near-term at least), given the right-wing criticism of Walkerville and increasingly numerous voices opposed to civil disobedience.

I think yesterday’s turn of events serve as a reminder that, for those resisting the Walker agenda, protest (of various sorts) is our only reliable and most powerful tool. It was protest that gave the Democratic senators cover to flee the state; it was protest that exposed the Republican arrogance and forced them into illegally passing the collective bargaining law. Similarly, when our protests aren’t as large and/or confrontational as they should be, we allow our politician “allies” – be they Soglin or Democratic legislators – to betray us.

In short, if our sole instrument for change is the Democratic Party, well, forgive me for not exactly being hopeful about our prospects.

But regardless of what one thinks about this strategy debate, the fact remains that Soglin lied to yesterday’s protesters. I voted for the man, and I certainly applaud many of his actions during his early days as mayor, but this development is hardly encouraging and, frankly, says some discouraging things about his integrity.

http://www.forwardlookout.com/2011/06/why-did-soglin-call-in-the-cops-on-union-protesters/11127

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Jun 8 2011 21:12

Thank you for the updates, Juan Conatz.

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Jun 9 2011 11:36

The national media has pretty much ignored Wisconsin since March 12-13, even though since then there have still been days where tens of thousands marched. There's nothing close to that amount in Walkerville (probably 50-100) when I was downtown on Monday, so I'm assuming CNN is covering this for the novelty...

http://inthearena.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/08/walkerville-a-tent-city-grows-in-madison-wisconsin-as-budget-protests-continue/

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Jun 10 2011 13:09

Defeating Walker and the GOP's agenda will require patient vigilance
http://www.isthmus.com/isthmus/article.php?article=33750

Quote:
Rock stars, movie stars and the venerable Jesse Jackson stood by our side in solidarity.

Seeing that rotting professional dinosaur, Jesse, was very depressing.

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If an election were held today between Walker and Tom Barrett, polls indicate that Walker would likely lose.

I wouldn't be so sure. The Democrats and "left" here pushed Kloppenberg for Supreme Court as a mandate on Scott Walker. Part of the start of demobilization was shoving everyone and all the unions into campaigning for her. She lost by tens of thousands of votes.

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Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has admitted as much. What we've seen in Wisconsin is part of a national strategy to defund the left and take down Obama in 2012. Both sides know that. It's politics, not economics, stupid.

This is part of the whole thing, but austerity would, will and is being pushed by the Democrats elsewhere and people either don't know this or just ignore it.

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Sometime later this month, the budget repair bill will likely be attached to the budget proper, subject to an up or down vote. Ending collective bargaining is not a fiscal matter, as the governor admitted, but that will not stop the GOP-controlled Legislature from sticking it into the budget bill and ramming it through.

This is a very wide spread fear here.

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Some are beginning to talk again of a general strike.

Interesting, I haven't noticed this.

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There are random, irresponsible calls for violence, the cathartic expression of which would play beautifully into Walker's hands.

This is bullshit. I wonder what this person is talking about?

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Even nonviolent direct action, if poorly conceived, could cost votes in a closely contested recall election.

Right here, boiled down, is the nonsense that is going on here. The recall people want everything to be done with the "middle", the moderate" and the "center" in mind.

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The same resolve that kept the protests peaceful in the early days is just as necessary now, perhaps more so.

This was not resolve, this was self-policing initiated and encouraged by the AFL-CIO and Democratic police.