What is it about these silvery lights sparkling in the cold velvet night that drives men to commit crimes? Is their siren shine irresistible to all but the most hardened heart? Is it my own karma to attract the craziest of the rightwing nut jobs who decide to break bad in my little corner of Reality Crossing? Tonight at Governor "1% Walker's" State of the State address in Madison, another member of the insane clown posse decided to pick fights over the lights. It was pretty crazy!
Badscience and I headed from Milwaukee to Madison after work. We had read Giles Goat Boy's excellent diary a few days ago illuminating all of the activities that were organized around the context of the bulimic flushing of the mining bill through the quick check-into-cash corporate fraternity called the House of Reprehensibles. We wanted to be there to give the Native American activists who drove from the northern reaches of the state the respect and support they deserve. We also wanted to join in the noise of the rotunda floor while Governor "1% Walker" recited his soliloquy. It will be, after all, his last State of the State, so it seemed worth the long drive.
(photo by Jenna Pope)
We brought a bunch of our LED letters and a couple of word signs, and handed them out to some friends and strangers, setting up a nice backdrop while Ojibwe activists drummed and speechified, expressing their dismay at Madison politics. It was a beautiful event outside of the Capitol building, and people took a lot of pictures of signs and ceremony. After a while, we set up the signs at the only door open for capitol access. There were a lot of mucky-mucks milling in from early dinners and happy hour, and we figured that placing a "RECALL" and "WALKER" sign on each side of the arched entry would give a nice ceremonial tone to the event. We were minding our own business, and lots of people were taking pictures of the happy lights leaning in the snow against the cold marble. All of a sudden, some guy who was walking by dropped down, picked up the "WALKER" sign, and yelled "I've got a sign!" as he was running away with it into the capitol. The sign is 2 feet by 6 feet. He was holding it aloft and trying to get through the door. He kept knocking it against the doorjamb as he was trying to flee. People yelled at him, "You can't take that sign, it doesn't belong to you!" and someone else yelled, "Stop that man!" Meanwhile, he was yelling, "I'm taking this to the Police!" Chaos erupted.
(photo by badscience)
A bystander ran up and tried to grab the sign. The sign-thief was still trying to negotiate the door. The sign-thief hit the bystander with the sign and the sign clattered to the ground. The sign-thief, bellowing like a wounded water buffalo, grabbed our bystander by the collar of his winter coat and began to pull him and drag him, all the while screaming "POLICE! POLICE! They are attacking me!" He was dragging this poor man across the walkway and wouldn't let go, all the while caterwauling for the police to come save him. I ran up to him and very calmly and clearly said, "Let. Him. Go! You… Are… Hurting Him! …Let …this… man… go!" The sign-thief was still screaming bloody murder, and I said, "No one will hurt you. Let him go!" Our citizen hero was being pretty aggressively choked, but he finally dropped and twisted and got away. Deputies arrived and established order. They wouldn't listen to any of us, just told us all to back away, which we immediately did. When the Capitol Police came, I calmly told them that I owned the signs, saw the whole thing, and even had some pictures of what happened. I didn't know it at the time, but New Kossack and stalwart Madison activist BatmanWI was quick to get her video camera working and got the following footage, which will be used as evidence:
The Capitol Police began to take my testimony. I didn't know about the video yet, but had some still shots on my camera of the victim getting choked. Right at that moment, the Forward Marching Band appeared out of nowhere and kicked into some rocking New Orleans style anthems. It was as if we were on a movie set for Crazyville. There were a dozen police, a big bunch of agitated people, our victim who was retching on the ground from being choked, and the Thief of Signs who was sitting with a policeman laughing and claiming we all attacked him and that the victim was "faking it." The officer speaking to me suggested we go in a little security room to talk, which we did.
The victim and I ended up following our officer through the labyrinthine hallways into the deep bowels of the Capitol building, where we gave written testimony for charges to be pressed: me for theft of property, him for battery. The Thief of Signs was arrested.
After giving testimony, I emerged from the bowels of the building into the rotunda, where the chanting reminded me of nothing but itself. That is, the noise in the Capitol was reminiscent of last year, of the great chthonic din that still gives me shivers to recollect. The "new rules" of conduct were obviously not being enforced, as there were huge RECALL banners and the impact of the noise was like standing on the tarmac listening to Metallica when a DC-9 takes off. We decided to bring the signs in the rotunda, where all the action was.
(video from Giles Goat Boy)
(photo by Jenna Pope)
Badscience, BatmanWi, plank bob and Giles all helped bring in our lite-brite activist accessories. As always, we found various volunteers to hold them, and enjoyed the show. Whenever "1% Walker" would tell a lie, the whole building would roar so loud it vibrated. It vibrated a lot during the speech.
So that's my story about the Thief of Signs and our epic Fight for the Lights. It ends up that he is a "regular" at the Capitol, a rightwing nut who has consistently been a problem for the Solidarity Sing Along and other activists. He gets up into peoples' faces and yells at them and aggressively provokes problems. This was the first time, to my knowledge, that he resorted to a physical attack.
I'm hoping that with new criminal charges, this rightwing nut will be banned from the capitol building, but we'll have to wait and see. I'm also hoping that he is not the only crazy rightwing zealot who is banned from the capitol. On that we will also have to wait and see.
(photo by badscience)