Largest Wisconsin protests ever: 85,000+ people in Madison's streets

If WI governor Scott Walker hoped that sneakily passing his union-busting bill would diffuse the energy of the protests that have rocked Madison, he was sadly mistaken. This weekend saw the biggest protests to date, with 85K-100K people in the streets, accompanied by donkeys, manure spreaders and tractors as the state's farmers joined the crowds.
"This is so not the end," said protester Judy Gump, a 45-year-old English teacher at Madison Memorial High School. "This is what makes people more determined and makes them dig in..."

All 14 Democrats later marched around the Capitol, trading chants of "thank you" with protesters who ringed the sidewalks. When the senators made their way to a stage, they promised to shift their energies toward recall drives already under way against eight of their GOP colleagues.

"Now ... we trade in our rally signs for clipboards and we take to the streets to recall the Republicans," Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee told the cheering crowd, "and in one year we recall the governor that refuses to listen."

Wisconsin Protesters Refuse To Quit (via Reddit)

(Image: IMG_6250, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from keegstra's photostream)


  1. Police estimated crowds of 100k two weeks ago and this was much larger than that. I came away feeling energized and ready to get to work recalling my local Senator. Thank you, Fab 14. PS, who knew that Tony Schaloub’s sister went to UW-River Falls?

    1. Except for all of those non-rich right leaning tea-baggers who keep supporting the politicians that will offshore their jobs and make them pay the taxes that the bloated rich don’t, right?

  2. How does packing the streets with out of staters and state workers (the presence of whom should diminish productivity in WI since they are marching and not working…. I haven’t seen or heard any dire stories of WI hurting because these folks aren’t working) help their cause.

    If they had private sector jobs they couldn’t afford such “courage”. How is “courage” shown by taking paid days off, paid sick leave, paid “personal days”, etc. Marching on the tit of the taxpayer to stay at the trough of the taxpayer is not exactly a winning message. Gaming the court election is more LEftist anyway… now that’s democracy.. let’s swing an election to a judge we already know will side with us. Nice. Read the Federalist. All of it please.

    1. Floyd, you are perhaps the most deliberately obtuse character I’ve seen here in a long time.

      It was a Saturday. Get it? Most people have Saturday off, and most people there were from Wisconsin. (Including some WI people I know.)

      When you openly and demonstrably renounce and relinquish all the public benefit you have received in your sad, lonely life, from the roads you drive on to the clean water you really ought to bathe in a bit more regularly, we can take you seriously. Until then, you’re as much on the taxpayers’ tab as anyone. And you know that very well.

    2. Floyd, please don’t cry just because the protestors appear to be able to beat their opponents at their opponents game (assuming, of course, that the 100K people are from out of state, which they aren’t, unless you have some proof).

      As for “courage”, I would use my real name before I called a public person whose name I know, a coward. Otherwise, well, it might look like I myself was hiding behind my anonymity. (I do, but I’m not the one calling names)

    3. so floyd r turbo, how do you think “courage” should be shown when you believe that your elected representatives are corrupt and failing to implement the will of the people? you can assume, if you wish, that you are employed in the private sector, but i’ll take your public sector version of the answer for 3 points.

      1. Oh, it’s simple, they should do as the tea partiers do, stay home, be polite and civil, not try to disrupt anything else, and, most importantly, work to get a victory for the common people who are being stepped on to service big corporations. (Hint: The tea partiers did none of that).

    4. “As president of my union — the Screen Actors Guild — I spent many hours with the late George Meany, whose love of this country and whose belief in a strong defense against all totalitarians is one of labor’s greatest legacies. One year ago today on Labor Day George Meany told the American people:

      “As American workers and their families return from their summer vacations they face growing unemployment and inflation, a climate of economic anxiety and uncertainty.”

      “Well I pledge to you in his memory that the voice of the American worker will once again be heeded in Washington and that the climate of fear that he spoke of will no longer threaten workers and their families.” – Ronald Reagan

      In a Labor Day address in 1980, Ronald Reagan said:

      “These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”


  3. I live in Wisconsin (Kenosha, to be specific), I attend UW-Parkside and I also voted Republican this past election. I’m not gonna explain my vote besides that I feel that Scott Walker is doing his job.

    Just as people are collecting support for a recall on Walker’s seat in the next year or two, there are also recalls going out for the democratic senators that left Wisconsin during all the uproar. For example, Senator Robert Wirch is up for a recall if after six months people in Kenosha County can gather the signatures. I personally am going to sign, because I feel like he abandoned his job that Kenosha County elected him to do.

    If the left can gather enough signatures and perform a recall on Scott Walker, more power to them. That’s what the people want. I just would like to say that I’m going to be in support of the recalls of democratic senators in Kenosha.

  4. Roy #6 “If the teachers were to act like a real union and threaten a strike, then the public focus would be moved from the state legislature and on to their actual contract demands, which are indefensible – and they know it.”
    I know, right? They’re all “We’re already taking a 5% pay cut (via 16 days a year unpaid furlough) after no raises for two years and we’ve already given in to your other demands.”

    “There is no way that the teachers unions would be able to convince the parents of the kids they are not teaching that they deserve a free pension, a 30% higher salary than a private school teacher and less than 10% contribution to their health care – all paid for by the taxpayers.”
    I know, right? (Pay no attention to the fact that they make less, on average, than their private school counterparts, and that the public employees that make more tend to be on the bottom end. Yes, that’s right. The budget is being broken by those greedy Big Wig janitors)
    Walker has to save the state. By cutting the budget. In a recession. Oh, and by giving tax breaks to corporations.
    This reminds me of a story:

    Husband: “Honey! Kids! I’m home from work.”
    Wife: “You’re home early. How was your day?”
    Husband: “Terrible. Because of the recession, my pay has been cut, so our budget is all out of whack. To save money, you’re going to have to quit that course you were taking.”
    Wife: “Oh. That’s bad. Once I finished it I was going to get a better job. Can you pick up more hours at work to make up the money?”
    Husband: “No. As a matter of fact after my boss told me my pay was being cut I stood up and I banged his desk and told him that I would also work fewer hours. So…our household budget is even bigger than my pay can support. Junior won’t be getting braces this year. And Cindy will have to take hand-me-downs from Jane, her older sister. And we can’t afford to fix Jane’s bike. In fact, I sold it for no money to a friend I owe favors to.”
    Wife: “Really?”
    Husband: “Yes.”
    Wife: “Oh. Well at least we can get by on our savings for a while.”
    Husband: “No. I gave that away. To local Mom & Pop corporations. So that they can create jobs. Like the one I’m not doing right now.”
    Wife: “I want a divorce.”
    Husband: “Not until 2015.”

  5. Liberal progressives and unions made America great. Conservatives are doing their darnedest to turn back the clock to the hey-days of the 19th century when these groups didn’t hold any power. The Tea Party and the Libertarians are willing accomplices. If you aren’t in the top 2% of the economy, voting for any conservative (Blue Dog Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Tea Party member) is not in your best interest. You are literally shooting yourself in the foot. And yet Americans do it again and again and again. And seem shocked and surprised when a hole ‘suddenly’ appears in their foot. It seems to be a mystery to them. Even while they hold the smoking pistol in their own hand. It baffles me.

    1. Tetsubo #15 “Liberal progressives and unions made America great. Conservatives are doing their darnedest to turn back the clock to the hey-days of the 19th century when these groups didn’t hold any power.”
      Pah! It was conservatives who made America great! They’re the ones who fought against the status quo. They’re the ones who fought for progress! It’s right there in the name!

      “You are literally shooting yourself in the foot.”
      You are literally using that word incorrectly.

      “And yet Americans do it again and again and again. And seem shocked and surprised when a hole ‘suddenly’ appears in their foot. It seems to be a mystery to them. Even while they hold the smoking pistol in their own hand. It baffles me.”
      That just shows how powerful the atheist-liberal-union-Muslim alliance (ALUMA) is, making Real Americans® shoot themselves in the foot like that! ACORN! Soros! PBS! Planned Parenthood! ACLU!

  6. Walker’s subversion of democracy has shown that signatures and elections aren’t going to do anything. That was the whole point of citizens united. When it comes time for recalls, Koch and friends will just outspend and flood the state with lies and propaganda as they have been doing all ready. See Roy and Floyd’s responses to see who effective lies can be. If labor doesn’t engage in some direct action soon they’re done on this.

  7. Roy #18 “If the Public school teachers are being undercompensated then they should not go back to work until management, in this case the state of WI, makes the necessary compromises to satisfy the union.”
    They’ve already compromised. They aren’t out for raises. They aren’t out for better perks. They’re out for respect. Respect for things like collective bargaining. Without that, they’re a union in name only. Which is Walker’s (and the GOP’s) goal.

    “If there is truly an injustice then the people of the state will not believe that the teachers are putting themselves ahead of their children, and there will be solidarity with the teachers.”
    You’re new to the country, right? This is Earth, not counter-Earth. Too many people are too angry and too misinformed, and, rather than inform them and let them march, torches and pitchforks in hand, on Wall Street, the Right and its thinktanks and media have given them someone to blame. First it was Obama (who, had he been a populist rather than a pragmatist, would’ve let them follow the SEC and DoJ to Goldman-Sachs, but he’s not and so has only himself to blame). Then it was the Mexicans. Then it was the Muslims. Then it was Elmo. Now it’s the Public Unions (exempt police, state troopers and firefighters).

    “This is how unions are supposed to work.”
    I hope it doesn’t get that far. General strikes are messy business. Especially when kindergarten teachers are involved. Rush says they’re thugs. Every last one of ’em! True story.

  8. The article is right in that this will all ultimately be settled at the ballot box. It will be several election cycles in Wisconsin before the dust settles from this. I remember growing up I voted out of duty, not because I thought it would make any difference. Thank you Wisconsin for finally giving us all a reason to vote. It seems it finally does make a difference. Let’s all vote.

  9. I just wish America would split in two. Let’s face it, there are simply irreconcilable differences. I would enjoy watching all these dupes and apologists of plutocracy trying to muddle on in their newly minted ‘conservative’ America. I’m sure they would continue licking the boots of the rich and powerful all the way to the breadline because each night they go to sleep dreaming that one day, they may too may become filthy rich and instead of being just an asshole, be a powerful asshole.

    1. If you think the USA should split in two think about what we’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both are far more diverse than the USA (yes even more than Arkansas vs California or Utah mormons vs gay Californian communists) and have longer-steeped hostilities. We spending so much (and kill to many) trying to staple cats to dogs.

      We’re trying to take many radically different groups of people and force them to form a country together just to fit some lines some drunk Brits drew on a map a hundred years ago.

      We claim to be liberating but really we’re only empire building (dictator propping) – in trade for that empire(/death-camp)’s resources.

  10. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade went off without a hitch today. After being downtown yesterday, I was amazed by the difference not having 100k+ people downtown makes.

    The parade was pretty much an anti-Walker demonstration, with green hats, leprechauns, and a lot of candy thrown at helpless children. Basically, a good day was had by all.

    Oddly enough, clan Fitzgerald didn’t make an appearance. Probably worried that walking around the square being booed because of their cousins’ actions in state government might put a damper on things.

  11. Just so you know, many of the trolls that populate 4chan love to take Fox News / NeoCon / Tea Party talking points – and I’m seeing them over in here too now. BB is on the astrospam hit list. You can repudiate them all day long and not accomplish a thing.

  12. Did they pick the best weekend to do this, given the earthquake coverage? I didn’t even see this until now.

    I’m not sure if these protests are going to convince anyone of anything. Teachers can no longer use the phrase “our top priority is the kids”. The teachers have been exposed.

    There will be future elections coming up. The pro-labor folks can attempt to fix the situation then. Keep in mind, the pro-taxpayer folks are just as fired up.

  13. I was there yesterday. The police estimate was 100,000 at 2 p.m. But the crowd didn’t really reach its maximum until after 3. It was easily 150,000 from 3-4:30, not including the people who had come for the tractorcade in the morning and then gone home.

    After the rally, I got to speak with two groups of people — half a dozen 20-somethings, mostly grad students; and a dozen 30-to-40-somethings, mostly state employees. Everyone was seriously committed to seeing this thing through — at the ballot box, in the streets, in the capitol and in their workplaces.

    I think one thing that we should all remember is that the height of union agitation in this country came at a time before unions had any rights at all, when they were often judged to be criminal conspiracies. It would be a real hardship to many people to lose their collective bargaining rights at this point, but there’s now way that will kill the spirit of trade unions.

    As one great sign at the capitol put it: “Welcome back labor movement! We’ve missed you!”

  14. You know… I’m beginning to think that the anti-teacher crowd are sort of correct.

    I mean, if the teachers were any good, they wouldn’t have produced enough of these window-lickers who voted Walker into power, let alone continue to support him after he’s been exposed for the being the meat puppet he is.

    For shame, teachers! For shame!

  15. It was well over 100,000. I’ve heard from several people who were there that it may been over 150,000.

  16. I was there yesterday as well, and based on previous crowd estimates and common sense guesstimates (how many times would these people fill Camp Randall Stadium (U Wisconsin)) there had to be at least 150K, probably more.

    I’m non-union, as is my wife and daughter and we joined the protesters in a crowded and cold march around the capitol. What’s happening is incredibly encouraging. Democrats (who I’m not normally very sympathetic toward) and the left have gotten together on this with serious determination. Narratives that were previously verboten on corporate news like wealth distribution, corporate money in politics, and the republican war on the middle class are staring to make it into the media. The fourteen state senators were gone long enough to give this movement a huge amount of momentum.

    In the end, what’s really going to determine whether there has been any lasting effect will be the recalls – whether they succeed in forcing elections and who wins those elections. Right now I have pretty high hopes, since I know a pretty significant number of ex-republicans.

  17. Anyone making the claim that the people demonstrating are not from Wisconsin is (a) not there talking to them, (b) spreading misinformation, (c) not even interested in telling the truth about the situation or (d) all of the above.

    As for paid leave, how is it less patriotic to use one’s paid leave to protest than to, say, take a vacation in Cancun?

    The thing I’ve especially noticed about this set of demonstrations is that even farmers are on board with the demonstrators. Farmers, in case anyone hasn’t noticed, don’t tend to be Leftist flunkies; nor do they mostly tend to be very reactionary or in any way radical. Farmers start getting into the equation on the side of protesters, and the status quo has got to know there’s trouble brewing ahead!

    Power to the American People!!

  18. I just saw a news story on how Walker turned down a Federal grant of $800 million to build high speed rail (in fact he ran on turning down the money, and his TV ads were really petulant.) I know the Republican talking points behind why he turned it down (they think it will end up costing them more in the long run) but it really seems like he deliberately wants to screw Wisconsin’s future, and I sometimes get the feeling the GOP is actually trying to screw the economy more, so that in 2012 they can blame Obama and get the White House.

  19. This is my own personal transcript, I have therefore permission to post it!

    Dennis Kucinich Speaking in Wisconsin:


    Begin Transcript:


    Strong! Be Strong! Be Strong!

    Thank you. Thank you Matt, Tami, Ed, Jim Hightower[et al. –unclear, potatohead]

    We’ve got a lot of great people, who have come to Wisconsin to support you, and I’m very glad to have the opportunity to join them.

    This… this is a moment in American history where we’re called upon to respond with everything that we are, with all that’s in our heart and soul, so that we can reclaim the essence of economic justice before it is somehow it is lost on the corporate scaffold!

    We have to fight back!

    We fight back for our democracy!

    We fight back for our Constitution!

    We fight back for freedom of speech, for the right to assemble, for.. for the right to, for the freedom of association!

    We fight back for due process!

    We fight back, and we fight back HERE IN WISCONSIN!

    All over America, people are experiencing this ferment that is coming from the events in Wisconsin, and the events in my own State, where in the past week, a bill has moved along, that would strip the right of collective bargaining for Ohio’s public workers that would [boos] …that would put them in harm’s way, should they decide to strike, because if replacement workers would come in and then would set the stage for privatization, and after all isn’t what this is all about?


    Corporations want to steal what they feel is theirs to begin with. They don’t believe in such a thing as Government for the people, what they believe in is Government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations! THAT MIGHT WORK ON WALL STREET, BUT IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK IN WISCONSIN! AND IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK IN OHIO! AND IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK IN MICHIGAN!




    [pan to crowd cheering, clapping, very enthusiastic]
    [Man in crowd yells, “DENNIS RUN FOR PRESIDENT!”]

    We are here… We are here, not for ourselves. We are here on behalf of all those who serve. Whose work is dignity. Who committed themselves to public service. We are here for them, to say that they, and all workers everywhere, have a right to join a Union, have a right to collective bargaining, have a right to strike, have a right to decent wages and benefits, have a right to a secure retirement, a right to a safe workplace, a right to be able to participate in the political process, and A RIGHT TO RECLAIM THEIR GOVERNMENT!


    What we have here today in Wisconsin, is the beginning of a new Civil Rights movement. Because historically we have to understand, that historically, the right that workers have came apace of the Civil Rights movement, which resulted in breaking slavery, because working people understood, that unless they fought slavery and joined with the abolitionists, that their ability to be able to make a living was going to be compromised. So what we have now here is the 21st century version of a civil rights movement, where we understand, that a economic democracy is a precondition of a political democracy!


    …and so, and so, let this be called the Madison Declaration:

    For a economic democracy, and that is everyone has a right to a job, everyone has a right to an education, everyone has a right to health care, everyone has a right to retirement security, everyone has a right to housing, and everyone has a right to peace!


    This attack on our workers, this attack in Washington on working people that results in wealth being accelerated to the top, that results in tax cuts going to the rich, that results in energy policy turned over to the oil companies, that results in defense policy turned over to the arms manufacturers, that results in endless war, that results in the National security State, it’s all a part of the same thing, and it’s up to us to FIGHT BACK, FIGHT BACK, FIGHT BACK, FIGHT BACK, FIGHT BACK, FIGHT BACK, FIGHT BACK!

    [pounds podium with hand]
    [crowd continues with fight back, fight back! chant and applause]

    The objectives of corporations are different than those of Government. They would like us to believe that the corporate ethic is what Government should be about, but we know that corporations are here for one thing, and one thing only, and that is profit.


    Government, Government belongs, not to the private sector, but to the public sector, and our responsibility in government is to provide, provide service. The private sector would like to convert the assets of the public sector for their own use. That’s why in your own legislation, in the bill, you can see there was an attempt –there’s an attempt in the bill to try to privatize your electric services. You can see that.


    I know about this, I [stutters] fought and beat a privatization of a municipal electrical plant in Cleveland many years ago. I understand about privatization. I understand that what these corporations want is they want total control over our Government.

    [favorable shout from crowd]

    Keep the light on!

    They want total control of our Government.

    In Michagan, we learned the State legislature there is passing legislation that will enable a fiscal manager to come in and literally abolish city governments and school districts! Now why are they doing this?


    Think about it. The’ll do this so that the city governments and school districts can be run for banks and for Wall Street. They’re gonna make sure Wall Street will get it’s pound of flesh. That Wall Street will be able to handle, through their –these managers, they can break union contracts, they can reduce the city government to mush, city councils and mayors don’t mean anything, school boards don’t mean anything, WE ARE FIGHTING FOR OUR DEMOCRACY HERE! WE ARE FIGHTING FOR IT, AND WE WILL NOT FAIL TO RECOVER IT!


    And we will recover it by establishing a program of economic reform which will wrap it’s arms around all the movements in our States to try and regain control of State Government, because you cannot succeed, unless from the national level there is the movement that some of the younger people talked about earlier, that puts into place programs that can create jobs for all, that can create education for all, that can create health care for all, that can protect retirement security, not -and that can create peace.

    Right now, we are told in Washington that when we want various social programs, we’re being told that well, we can’t afford it. But when they ask, when they ask, when they ask for trillions of dollars for war, no one said, “Oh! We can’t afford it.” What they say is, “just pay, borrow money from China and Japan, and just keep the war going.”




    [points to crowd, who continues chant and clapping, “no more wars”]


    There are those that believe that war is inevitable, because they make money from those wars, so that profit becomes inevitable, but we have to establish a new standard, which is what a department of peace is all about. That we have the capacity to create peace. That we are not just victims of the world we see.

    We become victims of the world we see, when we buy into the psychology of war, which a false psychology, which is not something we should accept as the way the world should be.


    We have a right to create a world that has plenty.

    I want to…

    [pauses for thought, favorable cries from crowd]

    I also want to say that when we talk about, if we are going to create a context where state governments can survive for the people, then there has to be accountability. And now you’re showing in Wisconsin, your determined there’s going to be accountability for these State officials for not responding and or doing the bidding of corporations, I want to add this:

    There is another thing our country needs to do. We need to add accountability, and insist on accountability for those that took us into war based on lies.


    I wanna, I wanna say this in Wisconsin, because it needs to be said somewhere, but it’s time that those that took us into war, based on lies, they outta be prosecuted once and for all!





    We are constantly told we don’t have any money. Joseph Stiglitz pointed out that, that the war in Iraq would cost at least three trillion, we’re at the half trillion dollar mark, with Afghanistan, but we will have a vote this week, and the vote will be to end the war in Afghanistan, it will be Thursday, House Concurrent Resolution 28, I’m proud to sponsor that, we’re going to get another vote on Afghanistan.

    But let me tell you this: One of the great myths, one of the great myths of our time is that we are told, “well you know we just don’t have the money for these programs, we have money for war, we established that”, but I want to offer this for your consideration, because it’s actually the path out, not just for Wisconsin, but for all the States, who are struggling, with some legitimate budget problems, and we have to look at it this way:

    We have to start to examine this debt based economic system, which puts us into believing the only way we can have money is to have debt. How did we come to believe this? We came to believe this, because you have the Federal Reserve that was established in 1913, they privatized the money system ok?

    We have the fractional reserve system where banks create money out of nothing and then they pyramid the debts and stick the tax payers when they go bust!

    We have, we have a government that says, “gee, we don’t have the money to fix our roads, our bridges, our water systems, and sewer system”, I want you to think about this now.

    This is a time, in this debate, when transformation is in the air, when evolution is in the air, this is time for us in this debate, to start to look at the monetary system itself, and ask ourselves whether it isn’t time to put the Fed back under the control of the Government, to end the fractional reserve of banking, and to say, “let government spend money and invest in to circulation to rebuild America! To put millions of people back to work to rebuild our roads, our water systems, our sewer system!”



    End Transcript.

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