[COMM-ORG] Scare tactics regarding Madison-style democratic protests (Please post to list)

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Wed Apr 6 08:42:08 CDT 2011


 [ed: please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with responses to Alison's
query. A bit from me below.]

From: "A. Eisinger" <alison.eisinger at gmail.com>


Dear Comm-Org-ers:

I would love to hear list member's thoughts -- and get solid information
from folks in Wisconsin -- about the following example of how elected
officials are being told to fear peaceful small-d democratic protests.

The context:
Here in Washington State, with a 5.4 billion budget deficit and a deeply
divided legislature heading for another "all cuts" budget, we are
preparing for a busy week in our state  Capitol, Olympia.   Labor,
community, education, health care, housing, and other groups have been
organizing for weeks to hold four days of demonstrations in and around
the Capitol, culminating in a large rally on Friday, April 8th at noon. 
They are urging legislators to "take a balanced approach" - closing tax
loopholes and building a budget that includes revenue ( no small task in
a state without income tax, where last fall the voters just passed an
initiative requiring 2/3 of the Legislature to approve any new taxes). 
To add to the excitement, today the House of Representatives is due to
release its version of the budget, which is sure to include devastating
cuts to public services.

Here's the Madison connection:
This weekend I ran into a long-serving and well-respected member of the
state House of Representatives.  We chatted about the upcoming week, and
she said with great concern that she and her colleagues had all been
informed by a senior Legislative staff person that protesters in
Madison, Wisconsin "had done 8 million dollars' worth of damage to the
state capitol," and that she was very concerned about what the expected
9,000 (you read that right) people coming to Olympia would do.   I could
hardly believe my ears.  A friend who was with me and had just returned
from a visit to Madison told the Representative of how proudly her hosts
had shown her the clean, unmarked marble walls where blue painter's tape
had been used to hang messages.  I mentioned the extensive coverage of
how demonstrators and Capitol building staff  had communicated to ensure
public safety and protection of public property while in the Capitol. 
And yet, she was shaking her head, anticipating mayhem and damage.

This may seem trivial, but the conversation left me very troubled. 
Deliberate or not, this sort of warning inevitably makes elected
officials afraid of the general public. I fear it will lead to escalated
anxiety and tension when demonstrators do head to the Capitol, which
they will, and that is never a good recipe.

I understand that there are people who have clear information debunking
these 'estimates' of damage in Madison, and I'd love to have something
to send to this legislator.    I'd also like to hear anyone's thoughts
about this as we see organizing around state legislative issues
"post-Madison."

Regards,

Alison Eisinger
Seattle, WA

[ed:  here is a news report that summarizes many of the other news
reports here in relation to this question
http://www.nbc15.com/home/headlines/UPDATE_Judge_Orders_Wisconsin_Capitol_Open_To_General_Public.html
.  It may also be worth them contacting legislators here to learn their
perspectives.  And here is an article about the capitol police chief 
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/crime_and_courts/article_09879cd2-58a7-11e0-9c08-001cc4c002e0.html
.]


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