EDITORIAL: Why I Gave the Assembly Natural Resources Committee the Finger

March 1, 2012 by Barbara With

A snare similar to ones used to hunt wolves under the new bill.

A snare similar to ones used to hunt wolves under the new bill.

Last month, the Wisconsin Assembly Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on AB502, better known as the Wolf Harvesting Bill.  Announced on January 27th, this bill would make it legal to hunt wolves using cable traps and leg holds, and allows hunters to legally kill the wolves in any fashion that they choose, including clubbing them to death.

The irony of this bill coming out on January 27th was that it was one day after the Assembly illegally passed AB426, the horrific and potentially fatal mining bill that was taken up even after Rep. Bill Kramer (R-ALEC) ordered the Assembly doors locked and the public removed. This blatant disregard for the Wisconsin constitution, which insists that doors to the legislature remain open when a session is taking place, has become the trademark of the obscene way the Republican fascists have done business throughout the past year.

But a particularly disconcerting  element of the wolf harvesting bill was that it was released one day after Joe Rose, elder from the Bad River Tribe and professor at Northland College, gave a press conference during the January 26th Assembly session. Rose told the Creation story of the Anishinabe, and how the wolf and man were brothers, traveling the world together giving names to all things great and small. As they reached the end of their time together, Creator instructed them to go their separate ways, but told them that whatever happened to one would happen to the other. At one point, the wolf also materialized into a woman, and the first Anishinabe family was born.

To release a bill the following day that would make the murder of wolves legal appears to be yet another passive aggressive statement being made by Wisconsin fascists. Not only do they intend to commit genocide and destroy Bad River with their mining bill, but now their sacred symbol of Creation, the wolf, is also in the cross hairs of their drunken power grab. Judging from the way that the Bad River Band has been treated throughout the public hearings on the mining bill, one does not have to stretch very far to see the racism, lack of respect and outright profanity that has been generated by Republican fascists towards the tribes.

After listening to Scott Suder (R-ALEC) testify about how “brazen” wolves have become, and spew more lies about the number of wolves in the state that changed from sentence to sentence, I decided I needed to send them a message that could not be overlooked.

After educating the committee on the RICO complaint I filed with the Department of Justice last summer, I carefully and respectfully told the committee that by bringing this bill out at this time, they were sending a message to the people of Wisconsin, but mostly to the Anishinabe, who traveled 13 hours to stand against AB426 the day before on the grounds that it will kill them. With all due respect, I told them I had to demonstrate what I perceived their message to us to be. At that point, I raised both my middle fingers as a clear and undeniable articulation of yet another unfair, special-interest driven, obscene and destructive attempt to kill off Wisconsin’s Native Americans and natural resources.

The responses on the part of committee members were telling. Chairman Mursau seemed to be in some kind of trance while I was speaking. Democratic members Cory Mason and Louis Molepske lowered their heads, but were clearly wanting to see the reaction of the Republicans. Mary “Bang Bang” Williams (R) who treated Bad River so poorly in Hurley, was desperately trying to flag down anyone on the committee to stop me. Rep. Steineke (R) in the back row is apparently so used to ignoring the public that he had no idea what I was saying until someone texted him to be outraged.

After producing the two digits and telling them that THIS is the message they are sending , Musau awoke, seemingly not too sure what had just happened. Kleefisch and Steineke ran out of the room as if they had been ordered by Jeff Fitzgerald. See my entire testimony here:

In a January 27th article in the Progressive, Rebecca Kemble stated it perfectly, “Citizens of Wisconsin are being backed into a corner in which the only recourse they have to meaningfully affect the legislative process is becoming criminalized. When dozens of hours of public hearings on bills that generate overwhelming testimony against them have no effect on the outcome, people are forced to express themselves more directly.”

While I did not testify at the Senate Natural Resources Committee which passed the bill on to the legislature, I was told that Chairman Sen. Kedzie (R-ALEC) proclaimed that obscene gestures would not be tolerated. Really, Sen. Kedzie? What about your own?

Can you hear us now?

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