Just A Quiet Sunday
So I figured I’d make the drive up from Chicago to see what all the hub-bub was about. I decided to leave early, as word was that all the downtown and campus parking ramps filled up quickly; come late, and I’d have to park in a fallow field or something.
Turns out I came too early. Thus I had forgotten one of the most important things I learned in law school — Sunday mornings are dead as a doornail around here. Saturday night, after all, is Saturday night — if you were up-and-at-em at 9:00 in the morning on Sunday, you were either going to church or you didn’t party hard enough.
But things did get rolling around 11:00 at the Capitol — the Letter Carriers’ union was kicking things off. A stroll around, and inside, the Capitol gave me a taste of what has been going on here for the past three weeks. The general impression you get was that this was, exceedingly and without question, a civil crowd. There were maybe one or two signs that pushed the limits (like one with a picture of Osama bin Laden with Scott Walker’s face superimposed — carried by a firefighter, of all people). Other than that, the reports of violent overthrow and armed rebellion have been greatly exaggerated.
More visuals, post-jump.
The morning was taken up with a coffee and a paper. The big news was the Michael Moore appearance — which featured a half-hour stemwinder of a speech from the Big Fella. But it isn’t about him, after all. It’s about average folks with a bad case of PISSED OFF.
The folks who decided to make their way inside (after a wanding by cops who had made their way from all over the state — my wander was from Green Bay) was a very family crowd. Lots of little kids with their parents, combined with a few old stand-bys from the Madison activist scene. It was a very good-spirited bunch… particularly as the firefighters (one of the several unions that is written out of the budget fix bill’s anti-union measures) came on in through a fairly well organized parade.
But the memory of the clenched-fist, roiling action was on display on the outside. On the south wing of the Capitol (which houses the Senate), you can see papers posted in several windows. These are the windows of the absentee Democratic senators, whose staffs had posted signs declaring solidarity. One wonders if the recent action by the Republican majority, to put these staffs under majority control until the Fleeing Fourteen return, might have these signs come down. But, for now, they stay.
But these weren’t the only signs tacked up to the building. During the lockout last week (ending in the arrestless evacuation on Thursday night), there were hundreds of post-it notes tacked to the doors of the East Wing (where Walker’s office is). Some of them were not for family audiences (something about Walker and goats on one), some of them were downright ranty (like some approximation of the 95 Theses), but most were just short and to the point pleas from the unwashed masses. Touching, in many respects.
Nearby, there was an aid station staffed by a bunch of U.W. students. Fully stocked with the essentials — fruit, coffee, snack bars, and (genius!) hand warmers. Free for the taking (donations accepted). And this was about ten yards from the front door of the Governor’s office. That is one of the truly remarkable things about all this: the people claiming as their property their own Capitol, and the cops largely letting it go on uninterrupted. I couldn’t imagine the Capitol Police in Washington letting a protest be aided in such ways.
And speaking of aid, here is the world famous Ian’s Pizza, about a half-block from the State Street side of the Capitol, from whence thousands of pizzas have come. The report, on the chalkboard, was that in-store service had returned to normal. (And there was much rejoicing in the student body.) But there were still deliveries being made on a dolly to the steps of the Capitol, with about fifteen mac-and-cheese pizzas for the people, united. (Mind you, I do not approve of mac-and-cheese pizza. Sounds a bit much, to my ears. But it is Wisconsin, and one disses cheese at one’s peril.)
Anyway — must depart from the coffee shop (promotional consideration provided by Michelangelo’s Coffee — 114 State Street, Madison — where coffee is a work of art!) to catch a little bit more of the rally before driving home. (I would have taken the high speed rail, but, well, you know… the project is kinda sorta on hold.)