06 June 2011

Walkerville Day Three: Protect Public Services

While “public services” was the theme of the day in Walkerville, the slogan surely could have been “We will not be silenced!”  At least a thousand citizens converged to march around capitol square to protest the cuts to essential public services in the upcoming biennial state budget.

 At 11:30AM, a diverse group comprised of firefighters, police officers, nurses, teaching assistants, students, farmers, and numerous other community members assembled and marched up State Street to the capitol, as they had done over and over in the past several months. The bagpipers of the local fire department led the way and tractors followed in the rear as protesters made their journey around the capitol building, repeating their now familiar chants calling for equality, justice, and democracy.

Stopping briefly at M&I bank, the group demonstrated against the taxpayer bailout received by that financial institution, who then used their funds to support Governor Walker’s campaign. Shouting, “You got bailed out, we got sold out,” the protesters marked their disgust about governmental funds being funneled to private corporations rather than public services.

After several rounds about the capitol square, the firefighters led the protest group to the door of the capitol building at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Hoping to re-enter the people’s building, as they had been able to in all times past, the protest group was blocked from entry. Discovering that a side door around the corner was left ajar, a number of protesters ran to the entrance and went into the building, only to encounter capitol police officers who tried to block their passage.
 The firefighters managed to gain access to the rotunda of the capitol to symbolically voice their concerns with the legislation being promulgated by the current administration. Meanwhile, others in the building did not fare as well. A couple of protesters were carried out of the building for failing to enter through the “proper” guarded door, even though at least one actually had. Two visiting documentary filmmakers from Vermont were forcibly escorted into an elevator and arrested for “disorderly conduct,” which apparently is now defined as being in the capitol with a video camera. Interestingly, there were more (erroneous) arrests today than in all of the prior months of protests, and for the first time members of the press were arrested.

As lobbyists and friends of Walker are whisked into the statehouse through a secret tunnel, the citizens who are the true owners of the capitol must be frisked and go through a metal detector to enter their own building. But this is a perfect analogy to the state budget, which hands out millions to those members of the corporate elite (who in turn, do nothing with their riches to help anyone but themselves), and slashes rights and services to all of the actual taxpaying citizens of the state.

What was clear here on Day Three in Walkerville was that fascism has become the dominant theme of the current state administration. Oppression is rampant, as not before witnessed in the previous demonstrations and rallies. Besides the continued blocking of open access to the capitol building, the Walkerville encampment itself faces severe restrictions in terms of the spaces and times allowed for the village to exist. In addition, police seem to be quick to arrest, with little to no provocation. Apparently, our new Mayor Paul Soglin is also complicit in the oppression, as sources say he reneged on his promises to the citizen protesters today, and assisted in the threats and arrests of anyone not strictly adhering to prescribed orders about when and where they could and could not be.

Nevertheless, the importance of this day should not be underestimated. Despite the attempts of the governor and state legislators to subjugate the citizenry, the citizens have proven that they will not lie down or retreat. Indeed, their struggle is about basic survival. One could immediately sense the exhilaration and excitement, the sense of purpose and strength as the crowds who had previously walked, rallied, protested, and even slept beside one another for days on end were once again united. The day marked a renewed effort in the ongoing movement against not just one anti-union bill, but the larger corporate takeover of government. It demonstrated that the ties made in recent months between numerous groups and individuals still hold strong and that the efforts to fight the anti-union bill will continue in the fight against the unjust Walker budget bill … and beyond.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad you could find alternate accomodations to your foreclosed-upon OBAMAVILLAS; but y'all had better MoveOn to FORECLOSING the entire OBAMAVILLAGE come 2012, preferably with a New #1 Liberal/Labor/Progress Party over both DEMiserepubilkans!

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