Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Do "These Protesters" Seek to Gain?

I posted this photo on the Worley Dervish Facebook page this morning:

Image from the Shit Scott Walker Is Doing To My State Facebook page.

This afternoon someone made this comment in response:
I don't understand what these protesters seek to gain ? Over 2 years of protest now... Has it accomplished anything ? I am very much for peace and constitutional rights... But, these people are clearly breaking the laws and when you resist arrest Like that guy did... Sometimes regular people trying to do there job and go home get impatient and fed up with the pointless BS ! if you want to change things... Vote ! If enough people agree with you... You win ! If not, you may just be wrong... 
Are you saying, dear commenter, that the only forum for civic engagement is the voting booth? There is certainly no harm in singing for an hour a day in a public forum, conceding the space when others have reserved it, and continuing to voice objections in song to the heinous destruction of our state by right-wing legislators and the governor. Leonardo da Vinci said, "Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence." Obviously that silence would be very valuable to the governor, so much so that he is going to extraordinary lengths to silence us.

How would it be for us to watch our public schools be trashed, our environment be pillaged, our job numbers continue to lag behind most other states, not to mention corruption (WEDC) and cronyism galore, and our only available recourse be the voting booth, while Republicans seek to disenfranchise voters through gerrymandering and voter i.d. ploys? If you do not understand, it is because you don't want to understand. We will not be silent while our state is being plundered and pillaged.

The Wisconsin State Constitution, Article 1, Section 4: "The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government or any department thereof shall never be abridged." Never.

His reply:
Well, we disagree on many things I'm sure. I do not wish to silence the people, I am " the people " I only think more energy should be put into things with good results. This type of protest has been going on for decades.. With never much positive change from it. Much better ways to be heard, I believe.

Also, I am from Illinois, Chicago... As I'm sure you know, my state and city are in fiscal ruins !!! My state government ( democratic super majority ) leads the league in corruption and cronyism !!!

While your governor has balanced the budget from a huge deficit.. Has he not ?
No, the balanced budget is a fiction. Magic with numbers. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has swallowed all kinds of funds it cannot account for. Our state economy is tanking, people are in desperate straits, and things only continue to worsen. And even if the budget were balanced, what good will that do if people have no jobs, our public schools are being suffocated from lack of funds, and our environment is being pillaged?

And incidentally, we sing for only an hour a day. There are many other hours in the day, during which we all do and accomplish a great deal. That hour a day of singing strengthens and encourages us to keep engaged in myriads of ways beyond the ballot box.

And also, it remains to be seen what the results of our singing are. Neither you nor we can begin to know them all. Some of those results are and will be tangible, and some are the things that continue to be knitted into our hearts on a daily basis.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Guest Post: Zoltán Grossman: An Even Better Circus

Guest post by Zoltán Grossman
Zoltán Grossman is a Professor of Geography and Native Studies at The Evergreen State College and a civilian supporter of Veterans for Peace who was attending the Vets for Peace Convention this week in Madison and is on the board of GI Voice/Coffee Strong. He was arrested at the Wisconsin State Capitol during the Solidarity Sing Along on Thursday, August 8, 2013.

I was arrested for singing Thursday at the Wisconsin State Capitol. I joined the daily Solidarity Singalong in the Rotunda at noon, on a break from attending the Veterans for Peace Convention. The police declared the Singalong an “unlawful assembly” because it had more than 20 people, then marched in to arbitrarily arrest people. I had not intended to get arrested.

Zoltán Grossman being arrested by the WI State Capitol Police.
Photo by Jenna Pope

I was singing a bit, but then just observed and took video and photos of the Capitol Police arresting citizens for expressing their views. Then the Police came to me, saying that they had seen me singing, and handcuffed me behind my back. They took me to the basement for processing, along with many others. I saw old friends Sue Pastor (who continued singing) and Jo Vukelich (who loudly objected to being searched by a male cop).

The Capitol cops said they’d send me to Dane County Jail for processing, because I was from out of state, along with a Vietnam veteran from Iowa, John Jadryev. The cops asserted that we had "No Ties" to Wisconsin, so I explained I’d lived here 25 years and edited an atlas of Wisconsin history. The hearts of most Capitol cops didn’t seem to be in their assigned tasks; one of them loosened our handcuffs a bit and allowed us to sit together.

When he asked my religion for the booking form, I identified myself as "both Jewish and Catholic, but being in handcuffs today I feel more Jewish." I told another cop that I’d just been to Circus World, but that this mass arrest for singing was an even better circus. He replied, "You got the full Wisconsin experience. Have you been to the State Fair for cream puffs?"

John and I were transported to Dane County Jail, after the squad car was momentarily swamped by protesters, making the officers really nervous. We were booked again, and began talking with the other inmates being booked. It was a scene right out of Alice’s Restaurant. One guy who worked as a stagehand said that he had missed his court date for an OWI offense, and asked what we were in for. "Singing," we said. "Really? Power to the people, dude," he replied. Another inmate said, "Yeah, Walker’s a douche."

One of the Capitol cops talked about the new snitzy uniforms they’d been issued, with a stripe down the leg, which one of the DeForest cops called "militaristic." We were held in Holding Cell 2 for two hours as we awaited processing, mostly talking with each other about Iowa, Wisconsin, and European history. We listened to the hard-luck stories of other inmates, which made our situation seem extremely minor.

When we got out, we were pleased that legal observers had spent two hours waiting for us, and letting us know our rights. The experience was no big deal personally, but it showed how low democracy in Wisconsin has fallen in two short years.

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If you'd like to help, you can contritube to the First Amendment Protection Fund, which helps arrestees cover court costs.
Many thanks!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Guest Post: The Solidarity Sing Along and the Right of Unregulated Association

Guest post by Edward Kuharski
In response to the suggestion that Solidarity Sing Along participants' refusal to compromise or negotiate likens them to their adversaries:

The participants in the Solidarity Sing Along are a diverse and ever-changing group of individuals exercising our right of unregulated association as well as free speech—as individuals. Ideologies vary amongst the participants and are individual matters as well. There is no organization that is able to act on behalf of anyone, neither to compromise or to negotiate.

As we are irreducibly unique and radically free individuals, I fail to see any correspondence to our adversaries. They are highly ideological, funded and directed by outside entities that have no skin in Wisconsin's game, only a desire to leverage access through our public officials to pillage our resources. What possible compromise or negotiation could be had with such intransigent operatives? I personally don't believe in negotiating with terrorists, domestic or foreign. And compromising in matters of fundamental rights is an oxymoron. Either they are respected by government or they aren't. They aren't suitable for bargaining or rationing or kettling.

These intruders must be stopped. And we have no right to trade away future generations' birthright to a free and open society, an economy that works for everyone, and the dignity and security that those foundational structures make possible.

This crappy regime has actually compromised and negotiated itself into a legal and public relations corner, and it is striking out because it has had serial failure in its efforts to enclose the public's right to address their government and their right to use their public forum without regulation or interference, as has been the practice for 96 years.

All in all, the people are prevailing and I expect that to continue. I love that this model is spreading to other states such as Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan.

Makes me want to sing my heart out.