Thursday, March 10, 2011

Senate Republicans Hold Illegal Vote

Last night in a surprise move, the Wisconsin Senate stripped the fiscal aspects of the budget repair bill out. This meant that the bill no longer needed a quorum but could be passed with a simple majority, which they have. A vote was called, and in 18 minutes, Republicans rolled back 50 years of worker's rights. Of course, Wisconsin law requires 24 hours notice of such a vote, and a minimum of 2 hours if it is deemed "impossible" to get the notice out. Less than two hours elapsed between the announcement and the vote according to Dems.

Word of the impending vote went out to We The People via Facebook, Twitter and text messages starting around 4:45. By 5:30 when I arrived at the Capitol a small crowd was waiting to be allowed in. The new security procedures - totally uncalled for - were slowing the pace to a crawl.


The crowd grew quickly. People were literally running to the square to raise their voices in protest. Tiring of the process and knowing the urgency, we simply rushed the building, bulling through the doors and filling the space leading up to the security station which was woefully understaffed. They were not expecting us, it seems. Loud chants of "LET US IN!" boomed off the walls. In short order, another dozen police officers showed up and substantially expidited the security process, getting us in very quickly. Thank you law enforcement!! Once inside, we rushed to the Senate chambers to be LOUD.


Within a few minutes word came out that the vote had been rushed through, and passed. Collective bargaining rights had been stripped from workers - including the police department responsible for Capitol security by the way - undoing more than 50 years of progressive Wisconsin worker protections. A voice on the PA announced that Senate was no longer in session and the Assembly was not going to vote until Thursday, so we all had to leave the building. No one budged. No cop made an effort to ask us to leave. At this point no one believed that the Republican Assemblymen would not simply use that pretext to clear us out of the building, then vote. Hell no, we won't go.

I left the building - which was still in lock down - to meet up with my partner. While I was in the building, additional protesters had climbed in through second floor bathroom windows, been let in in groups at doors that were not staffed by law enforcement (until reinforcements arrived) so the crowd was pretty large. Outside I found several thousand people had arrived in the hour or so that I was inside.


We marched, and shouted from outside for another hour or so, then took a food break. Using WiFi I was able to get, and send out, some updates. Nourished, we went back to the Capitol. During our absence the police had essentially walked off door duty. Access to the Capitol was free and unrestricted! There were now thousands inside again, busily making new signs and chanting.


There are rallies and protests scheduled all day again today, tomorrow, and Saturday.

Gotta go catch a bus! SLIDE SHOW here...

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