August 20, 2103 by Barbara With
Since March 2011, a group of singers have gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest the government of Scott Walker. For over two years, they’ve exercised their right to assemble peacefully at noon and sing songs that express their outrage at the current administration’s policies and criminal acts that have gone unpunished. If and when permitted events are scheduled at the same time, the protest moves outside. Former Capitol Chief Charles Tubbs managed the crowds as nonviolently as the protests themselves.
In December 2011, Walker’s Department of Administration announced it was changing the Wisconsin State Facilities Access Policy for visitors to State buildings. Then-DoA Spokesperson Jocelyn Webster, a foot soldier in Karl Rove’s controversial Office of Political Affairs under George Bush, assured people that there would not be arrests. “No one is going to be arrested for not being in compliance with the permit policy. It’s kind of funny that anybody even thinks that they would be. The standard by which law enforcement will take law enforcement action remains the same.”
After Tubbs left, Walker brought in Chief David Erwin, hired in July 2012 to stop the singing. His concerns, as he stated, were to restore normalcy and safety to the Capitol, even though the Sing Along posed no danger. He began ticketing and, contrary to Webster’s claims, started arresting participants, including sending officers to private homes to issue tickets after the fact. About 90% of those tickets were dismissed, and Erwin’s troops fell back.
Then, on July 24, 2013 Erwin began another “crack down” of peaceful protesters in the Capitol. By Wednesday, August 20, 2013 the total number of arrests surpassed 250. Most are pleading “not guilty” and many are asking for a jury trial.
As this recent surge of daily arrests includes firefighters, elderly, children, journalists, local officials and those coming just to observe the madness, the Solidarity Sing Along is exposing the very reasons they protest.
The reasons for this protest are clear to those who understand the extent of illegalities and injustices that have been foisted upon Wisconsin since Walker took office.
Lies and collusion have followed the state Republicans as they broke open meeting laws, fast tracked unconstitutional legislation in the middle of the night, rewarded their corporate cronies with huge give-aways, and successfully laundered millions of dollars through Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), to a name a few.
However, with Wisconsin’s fourth estate also being held hostage by corporate controls, average readers of the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel might think nothing unusual is taking place. Walker targeted certain members of the press and actually used police force to keep them out of a press conference about WEDCs performance.
Aside from the loss of open government, the dismantling of unions, health care, the economy, public education, and attacks on the environment and women, one of the most potentially damaging moves that Walker made was to allow Gogebic Tactonite LLC (GTac), an out-of-state coal mining company owned by billionaire coal magnate Chris Cline to author a new metallic mining bill.
Even though the public was opposed to a 22-mile – mountaintop removal iron ore mine in the middle the Bad River Watershed, one of the world’s most pristine and unique water environments located on the shores of Lake Superior, Walker and his followers pushed it through anyway. Ignoring the overwhelming voice of the people who did not want the new law, the Republican majority passed the bill anyway. Sponsor Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) then promptly admitted it allowed for pollution.
When Walker ordered the capitol crackdown on July 24, 2013, he was also preparing to launch a full scale assault of the northern part of the state. On July 6, 2013 GTac was caught employing an unpermitted out-of-state paramilitary militia carrying machine guns with silencers to keep observers out of the core drill sites. There GTac appeared to be making their first environmental mess. Bulletproof Securities was caught breaking the law and left town before being apprehended.
However, GTac assured the public that Bulletproof would be back, and despite committing a felony, Bulletproof was given the proper permits and are now being allowed to patrol the north woods. According to GTac Lobbyist Bob Seitz, Bulletproof cleared out all “illegal” camps from the Managed Forest Land that they are leasing but required by law to share with the public.
After two years of failed policies, corruption and media propaganda, Walker’s regime is starting to unravel, as demonstrated by the mass arrests for something equivalent to a parking ticket. This distraction is meant to keep the media’s eyes focused away from where Walker and his GTac cronies wants to strike: The Penokee Hills, on the shores of the last great body of fresh water in the world. They have already allowed a private paramilitary militia to take over 4,000 acres of public-access forest land.
As the Solidarity Sing Along continues to face mass arrests, GTac prepares to push its way further into the northern part of the state. At a recent DNR hearing, the public once again testified that they do not want the mine, nor the company, to be allowed to do business in the state.
Walker now has his private army in the hills of northern Wisconsin, and given them the power to enforce his law. With machine guns in hand, their bullets will be aimed at the public.
Where it all ends is anyone’s guess.