Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fight the Power

-This was originally a note I posted on Facebook but wanted to be able to share it elsewhere. After posting it I've been receiving numerous reports from friends & acquaintances about other aggressive police behavior in the Capitol the past few weeks. It seems clear to me that Walker is trying to provoke a violent response from the protesters, as alluded to in his phone call with 'David Koch'. I think it's imperative for everyone to be keep cool but be armed with a camera at all times to document the police aggression as much as possible. We need to build up enough evidence of their unacceptable behavior and force the local (& national) media to cover what's really going on. I should also add that none of this would be happening in the first place if Walker & the DOA hadn't violated the court order to restore the Capitol to normal. Even after 9/11 there was never this level of security in the Capitol.

On the 67th anniversary of D-Day I witnessed a level of police brutality I had previously only seen during protests that I'd been a part of in Paris over the years. Although the brutality there was only seen on television rather than a few feet from my own eyes. On this day it was the last thing I expected to see when my whole family went down to the Capitol to protest against Walker. Despite the heavy police presence all around the Capitol, including many undercover officers, the day was quite peaceful as always.

The day's march primarily consisted of firefighters, farmers, nurses and families. We had been standing in front of M&I Bank where a large crowd was gathered protesting their support of Walker. A woman who seemed a bit nuts came up to Maceo & I and told me that, 'you know you're not going to want to bring your kid down here anymore after today, they have the tear gas canisters ready to go.' I blew her off as just another of the Madison nutjobs that always hang out at the square even before this all began.
Eventually Jen, Maceo, my friends and I had to take a break since it was 90+ degrees and Maceo was getting a bit hot. So we were all relaxing on the Capitol lawn when a large group of firefighters and other protesters approached and started walking into one of the open entrances on the MLK side of the building. There were easily several hundred people so the screening process was clearly taking a while. Side note; one of the bizarre new rules the DOA has started to enforce is to not let anyone bring lotion into the Capitol. The reason? So that people can't lube up their arms to evade being caught by police. Sadly, I'm not joking about this. Maceo's sunblock to keep him from getting burned is now a contraband item in the bizarro world of Fitzwalkerstan. Anyway after a few minutes someone opened a door on the King Street side and streams of people began entering along with non-protesters who were unaware of what was happening. Now I spend a lot of time at or around the Capitol; I'm down there daily for various reasons, many of which have nothing to do with protesting and more to do with Ancora coffee, great spots to eat & most of my dj gigs. It's pretty much my neighborhood as far as I'm concerned. And every day I always see someone opening the King St. doors and letting people in. I assume it's usually someone who works there but it seems to be an every day occurrence. Obviously this was a bit different since there were more people being let in, but since Walker and the DOA have been in contempt of court for keeping the Capitol closed to the public it didn't seem like a big deal to me that someone would do this. Besides we're talking about a group of firefighters and a few protesters, none of which have displayed any sort of violence even at the height of the protests when 200,000+ people were in the streets.

I walked in the King St. doors and just as I entered I saw a wall of about 10 or so officers running towards the entrance. They were all primarily State troopers & Capitol police, I recognized a few of them a people who had been working security the past few times I'd visited the Capitol. I sort of scooted over to the right-hand side and stopped to watch what they were going to do. As I was watching, I saw them grab a girl and violently throw her against the marble wall and arrest her. It was at this point that I was extra frustrated that my camera had died and only had my older iPhone to try and take some pictures. They were being so rough with her that myself and others started yelling at the cops to leave her alone. While I was trying to get some shots I asked an officer what she was being arrested for and she told me that 'she was trying to run away from them.' I couldn't believe what I was seeing just a few feet away from me. The whole scene was quite chaotic but there weren't that many people observing it. I'd say maybe a dozen to 20 people at most. One guy was so upset by it that he went right up by the officers arresting her demanding to know what was up. At this moment a female officer came up to me and told me that I had to leave the building. I told her that I had a right to be there and she had no right to remove me. She left me alone as a few seconds later a burly bald-headed cop violently grabbed the man by the neck. The officer who was talking to me joined her other officers in violently assaulting this man for no reason whatsoever. They slammed this guy so hard into the hard marble walls that I thought they were going to kill him. He was resisting a bit and yelling and I believe it was about this point that I noticed my friend Jesse who was filming for Dane 101:

I started walking away from the scene as I heard a large crowd chanting 'let her go' closer to the rotunda. As I was walking towards the action I noticed a family that was on a visit to the Capitol. Their kids looked to be between 5-9 years old and unfortunately they also had witnessed all the brutality that I had just seen. I wanted to say something but there was nothing I could think of to say. No words could explain what they just experienced. I can only imagine how hard it was going to be for their parents to explain the situation as I'm sure it made just as little sense to them as it did to everyone who witnessed it. Walker's doing a great job of raising an entire generation of revolutionaries. Read to lead indeed. These kids are our future fighters.

So as I made my way towards the chanting crowd I could see that there was a large group preventing the police from taking someone down to the basement for processing, though I couldn't see who it was. People were literally holding the elevator doors open to prevent it from leaving. Eventually a group of officers came into the crowd and started punching, shoving & pushing everyone out of the way. I backed off from the throng because I was afraid of getting crushed. I've been in enough large crowd situations in my life to know that this could happen in a matter of seconds. And the throng was being pushed back violently by these officers, who eventually removed the people holding the elevator doors open. Sending the people being arrested to disappear into the abyss of the Capitol basement. The officers stood guard giving steely-eyed looks at the crowd as people gradually left the scene. Here's a bit of video from a portion of that scene:

This is an edited clip from one of the women who got arrested:

And here's a report from WORT including an interview with two of the women who were arrested (they were both journalists):
"In our Backyard" from WORT FM 06/06/11 Day 3 of Walkerville by bluecheddar

Here's the report that Sam Mayfield filed after being arrested:

I wandered around in the Capitol in a daze for a bit after all of it trying to process what I had just seen. I noticed Senator Spencer Coggs looking at the firefighters who were now in the rotunda area. I had a nice chat with him and thanked him for all the amazing speeches and trying to fight so hard for us no matter how futile it is. It was another surreal moment in 113 days full of them so far.

I'll never be the same after what I experienced on this day. I'll keep pushing hard for the recalls of course as they're a key aspect in our fight. But will a recall change any of this madness that's going on in the Capitol right now? If this isn't a wake up call to everyone that our fight is real and won't be won through traditional means I don't know what is. I never advocate violence but we have to fight back against the tyranny that's happening before our very eyes right now. And the only way to do it is by large numbers of people coming back to the Capitol and reclaiming it as our house. An eye for an eye will clearly solve nothing in this battle. Our government works for us and not for corporations. With each passing day Walker is selling off our state's assets and rewarding his wealthy donors. We have to fight back before it's too late. This is a real revolution now. I just hope my fellow Wisconsinites are ready...

Police Brutality in the WI State Capitol 6.6.11 (My pictures from Facebook)


  1. Thanks for this, Nick. I hope we're ready, too.

  2. Thank you Nick, for this excellent analysis. You are absolutely correct that we this is beyond recalls, it's time to take back our house!

  3. Hippy thugs should be beaten....go home and leave the capital for real citizens..not spoiled hippies and thugs

  4. You are a flipping fruitcake!

  5. If it's fair to beat the liberals, can we also beat the banksters who waltz in with thousand-dollar suits and buy influence for the wealthy, thereby disrupting the democratic process?

  6. I was down there monday,We have to organize and fight back....Solidarity