Defiant protesters still occupy Wisconsin Capitol

MADISON, Wisc. — Protesters still occupy the state Capitol here. But thousands of workers, students and union-supporters are locked outside of the “people’s house,” because Gov. Walker flagrantly refuses to follow the court order to keep the state Capitol open. The Capitol is effectively closed two days after the court decision was rendered.

Among those outside demanding to be let in was a contingent of nurses from Chicago. Wisconsin nurses are hosting a New Orleans-style “funeral march” today where democracy and patient care will be mourned because of the Republican’s authoritarian budget bill that slashes health care and at the same time bans collective bargaining for public workers. Nurses from Chicago and elsewhere are joining their sisters and brothers in the protest march.

“When you attack Wisconsin, it could trickle down to Illinois,” said Martese Chism, an RN from Chicago. “It’s not right. This place is the people’s place and [the gov.] should follow the court order.”

Hundreds of immigrant rights activists unfurled a 25-foot long banner that covered three doors outside the Capitol that said, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

That kind of spirit has swept Wisconsin where a majority of residents, according to a recent poll,  support the teachers, nurses and other public workers in the fight against the anti-democratic drive by the Republicans. Plus, a recent PPP poll showed if there was an election do-over, Walker would lose because a majority of Wisconsin voters would put Walker’s Democratic opponent, Tom Barrett, in office.

During the 2010 elections, besides the tens of thousands of dollars donated directly to Walker by the mulit-billionaire tycoons Charles and David Koch, these extreme right, anti-union duo spent millions on TV and radio ads vilifying Barrett.

The Koch brothers have extensive financial holdings and industries in Wisconsin.  Just after Walker’s election, they opened up a lobbying firm just down the street here from the Capitol.

Local residents confirmed for the People’s World that Koch Companies Public Sector LLC opened an office just off Capitol Square. Two tenants at 10 E. Doty St. office building, who asked not to be identified, said the company moved into a seventh floor suite and has been there since Walker’s election. Koch Companies Public Sector LLC is the lobbying firm for Koch Industries.

As union lawyers worked at the courthouse to force the re-opening of the Capitol, workers are busy in the same courthouse on other matters, namely, filing petitions to recall eight Republican state senators. In a statement accompanying the petitions, the petitioners state that the “senators do not represent Wisconsin values.”

The People’s World has given extensive coverage to the workers and people’s uprising in Wisconisn and the fight backs taking place in Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere for worker and democratic rights. To see more of our coverage, click here.

Teresa Albano contributed to this article.

Photo: (Teresa Albano/PW)


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. John Wojcik es editor en jefe de People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.