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Wisconsin Protests Resume, with 13 Arrests

I’m a bit stunned by Ben Bernanke’s morning in America speech, so let me try to recover by looking at Wisconsin. Yesterday was the first day that higher contributions to pensions and health care came out of the paychecks of public employees, as part of the anti-union bill. So protesters returned to the Capitol in Madison by the hundreds, chanting and demonstrating against the policy. After closing time, the Capitol Police struck back.

Several hundred chanting, cheering protesters entered the Capitol rotunda Thursday around the 6 p.m. closing time.

An hour later Capitol Police carried thirteen of them away and arrested them — the largest number of arrests in weeks if not months.

Most of the protesters left around 6:30 p.m. at the urging of police. Officers sought to close the building and enforce a Dane County judge’s order from earlier this year that the building be cleared of the public after its business was done for the day.

Twelve adults and one youth were arrested on charges of unlawful assembly, with some facing additional charges of resisting arrest and obstructing an officer, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said.

The protesters arrested were mostly young people, students and TA’s, the backbone of the protests back in February. Many had been arrested before.

The fact that protests continue, six months after their inception, is an example of the outside-Washington rebellion described by John Nichols:

Yet beyond the Beltway, a different story has been unfolding. And it holds out promise for a party that needs not just hope but a coherent strategy for the 2012 election season. Dramatic overreach by newly elected Republican governors, who sought to curtail labor rights, undermine local democracy and slash spending for education and local services, has provoked a backlash that draws stark ideological and political lines on fundamental economic questions. And that is winning substantial Democratic victories in unexpected territory, including rural areas where the party suffered its greatest setbacks in 2010 [...]

There’s a confidence level on display in the states that goes far beyond what is being heard in Washington these days. It is rooted in the fact that state-based Democrats have found winning issues in their fights to defend labor rights, public services and public education against a GOP austerity agenda that cuts taxes for billionaires and corporations while placing greater burdens on working families in a period of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

Significantly, Nichols notes the victories in rural areas, with counties that went for John McCain going to Democrats in special elections and recall races. These were the counties that moved sharply away from Democrats in the 2010 recalls. He attributes a “Which Side Are You On?” message to Democratic success. That has been the message coming from many state Democrats, including Wisconsin; it remains to be seen if national Democrats will pick it up.

Related posts:

  1. Wisconsin: Capitol Police Tackle, Arrest Members of the Press
  2. Wisconsin: Republicans Plan to Attach Anti-Union Measures to Budget
  3. Wisconsin Anti-Union Law Takes Effect Today

Original Author: 
David Dayen

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