From New York City to Tampa to Denver to Oakland and Davis, California, police are apparently under the illusion that violence is an appropriate response when the people exercise their constitutional right to free speech and peaceable assembly to petition for a redress of serious grievances.
But in Madison, Wisconsin, site of some of the biggest protests in the country earlier this year and just a few days ago, the police have by and large protected our right to peaceably assemble. This past Saturday, between 25,000 and 30,000 protesters demonstrated around the capitol square in Madison in support of the effort to recall Scott Walker, and according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the capitol police had "reported no arrests as of Saturday afternoon." No arrests. No brutality. No pepper spray.
On February 19 of this year, soon after Walker et al. launched their heinous all-out attack on workers, schools, and health care in Wisconsin, the Madison police went so far as to commend Wisconsin protesters on their good behavior:
"The goal of law enforcement has been to provide a safe environment for democracy to take place." That was very cool at the time, but in light of recent events, it's extraordinary. So let's turn it around, shall we?SATURDAY'S CAPITOL SQUARE DEMONSTRATIONSLaw Enforcement Praises Protesters' ConductOn behalf of all the law enforcement agencies that helped keep the peace on the Capitol Square Saturday, a very sincere thank you to all of those who showed up to exercise their First Amendment rights. You conducted yourselves with great decorum and civility, and if the eyes of the nation were upon Wisconsin, then you have shown how democracy can flourish even amongst those who passionately disagree. ... The goal of law enforcement has been to provide a safe environment for democracy to take place. That goal has been realized for yet another day.
The people of Wisconsin praise law enforcement officers' conduct.
I'm sure I'm not alone in my gratitude for the police who have supported our efforts and our right to peaceably assemble. Thank you for not pepper-spraying or clubbing us, for not telling us we can't exercise our constitutional rights. Thank you for treating us with dignity and respect rather than with violence and brutality. Thank you for not hurting our friends and family—the elderly and the very young—who have gathered with us. You are truly a shining example in what otherwise is a dark night of shame. Just as the rest of the nation has been inspired by Wisconsin protesters, we hope that the nation's law enforcement agencies will be similarly inspired by you.