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Last night, the Overpass Light Brigade made a stop in Madison. We generally hang out on overpasses in the Milwaukee area, so being a Madisonian, it's nice when we plan an action in my city... It saves me about three hours of driving. But, the main reason I enjoy when we hold lights in Madison is because there's always a great crowd. There's so many people that are itching to be involved with the OLB, and the folks in my city don't get a chance as often as those in Milwaukee. The last two times we've been in Madison, over 60 people have come out each time to have their chance at being a holder of the light.

Lately, we've been heading out onto the bridges at 8pm because that's when it starts to get dark. We started setting up in a parking lot near the footbridge over East Washington Ave about 5 or 10 minutes before 8pm, but we didn't head up to the bridge until about 8:20pm because everybody was so immersed in their own conversations about who was going to hold which letter, where they went to canvass today, and how they think the recall effort is going, etc. There was an obvious feeling of excitement in the air.

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When we finally made it up to the bridge, the holders of the lights were overjoyed by the instant honking from the cars down below. Every time a car honked, there was a thunderous cheer from everybody. At one point, two cars that were stopped at the red light right below the bridge were honking "this is what democracy looks like" back and forth to each other. And even when cars weren't honking at us, there was chanting going on, including "Recall Walker", which was usually followed by chants of "Governor Barrett."

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After being involved in countless OLB actions over the past five months (It was literally 5 months ago today that I first held a sign out on a bridge - the same bridge we were on last night), I think I can say, from experience, that the holders of the lights have been getting more and more excited as the recall election nears. And the excitement I felt from the 60 plus people on the bridge last night was exactly what I needed to push me through until next Tuesday.

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The picture above shows the stoplights underneath the bridge glowing green. Last night, one of the holders mentioned to me how she preferred the pictures with the green lights instead of the red, because the red lights mean stop, but the green lights mean go. Well, the light is greener than it ever has been. NOW is the time to GO forward in full force. We have one week left, so let's start the sprint at the end of the marathon. Make phone calls, knock on doors, talk to your friends, family, and neighbors, or get involved in the OLB. Do something - anything. Walker needs to go, and we're the ones who need to make it happen. Solidarity, unity, forward... RECALL WALKER!

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Many of us here in Wisconsin (and even some folks outside of Wisconsin) have been working our asses off since Scott Walker "dropped the bomb" in February of 2011. I would like to take some time to remind all of you what we have accomplished since then, in hopes of giving you the much-needed burst of energy to help you push through to the June 5th recall election. Below I have a timeline of the major events that I personally experienced with my own pictures included. I wasn't at all of the major events, and some of them I was at, I didn't get pictures of, so I know a lot is missing. Please feel free to include your own pictures in a comment and include the date and what the event was if possible.

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I just read an article in the Wisconsin State Journal that is titled "Justice Prosser says investigation of him violates his rights." Part of the article reads:

State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser said Monday that the Wisconsin Judicial Commission's investigation into his alleged ethical violations is itself a violation of his constitutional rights, according to a court filing.

Prosser, the subject of an ethics complaint filed in March with the Supreme Court, said in his response to the complaint Monday that the commission "may not investigate or prosecute protected speech, advocacy and etiquette of Wisconsin Supreme Court justices when they are deliberating in confidential closed conferences."

The three alleged ethics violations stem from a June 13 incident in which Prosser acknowledges putting his hands around the neck of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley "to protect himself" and a February 2010 incident in which he admits calling Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson "a total bitch."

So, wait... let me get this straight. He acknowledges that he put his hands around Bradley's neck (AKA choked her), and admits to calling Abrahamson a "total bitch", but when the Wisconsin Judicial Commission decides to investigate these incidents, which he admitted to, then his rights are being violated?! What kind of world does he think we live in?

Oh, yeah, we live in Fitzwalkerstan, where I was given a ticket for holding a protest sign in a public area on the first floor of our Capitol building. Our state has become a place where Prosser thinks he can admit to doing something that he could quite possibly be convicted of, and then claim that his rights are being violated when he's investigated for it.... yet I do something that is actually protected by both the US and Wisconsin constitutions and I get a ticket for it, which is clearly a violation of my rights.

Does anybody else in Wisconsin ever feel like they're going crazy after hearing shit like this? Because I sure do...

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Today, Mitt Romney held a town hall in Middleton, Wisconsin, which is in the VERY liberal Dane County. Although I didn't receive a phone call about the town hall, I heard about it from other left-leaning friends, some of whom had received 4 or 5 phone calls asking them to come to it. I decided I was going to go and try to get a chance to ask Mittens a question about birth control and the fact that he obviously knows everything about woman's health, and therefore has the ability to tell us what to do with our bodies. I even went online to RSVP for the event to make sure was on the list to get in.

After putting on some semi-dressy clothes so as to look like I at least kind of belonged there (which is hard considering I have tattoos and a lip ring), I headed over to the Marriott hotel where the town hall was being held. I got there about an hour early, and ended up near the front of the line that had formed outside.

As I stood there, waiting to get in, I had to suffer through listening to republicans talking about how there's an injunction against having to show an ID for the upcoming election on April 3rd, but that they're hoping it will be back in effect soon so that they will have a better chance at winning the recall election... which means they realize it will disenfranchise many people who would normally not vote republican. They also brought up concealed carry, the iVerify the Recall site, and other things you would expect people waiting to see Romney would be talking about. I was having a hard time biting my lip and not saying anything to them, but I managed to stay quiet.

I had to listen to these people for about 45 minutes before the doors were opened and they started letting people in. Once I got inside, I had to show someone my ID, and they then looked up my name on the computer to see if I was registered to get in. The man didn't react at all when he first saw me, but once he looked up my name, he said, "You were at the Walker event yesterday, weren't you?" Although it wasn't actually a Walker event (it was an event with Romney at an office that was set up for Walker's campaign), I said yes. In fact, I had been there protesting, but there were also people there supporting Romney, so I didn't see a reason to lie to the man.

He gave me back my ID along with a Romney sticker and let me in. I went into the room where they were holding the town hall, sat down, and put the Romney sticker on my shirt. Within a minute, a security guard tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Secret service identified you as a protestor, so you need to leave." I said the first thing that came to my mind, which was, "Are you serious?!" He responded with a simple, but stern, "Yes." I told him, "I'm a citizen, and I'm here to ask Romney a question." The security guard said, "This conversation is over. Leave now." So, I stood up, ripped off my Romney sticker, and left.

There were people outside protesting Romney's visit, most of whom I knew, so I went out to join them and told them what had happened. In the end, there were a few other people who had been kicked out, as well. It turns out, they had used the iVerify the Recall site to check for people who had signed the recall petition for Walker. A good friend of mine heard this from the Dem Tracker who was at the event. But the funny thing is that a couple of people did make it into the event, and it's probably because the iVerify the Recall people did a horrible job at entering the data.

But, the point that I'm trying to make is that Mitt Romney is scared of being asked hard questions. So scared, in fact, that he kicks out anybody that might oppose him. What's the point of having a town hall if you aren't willing to listen to ALL of your potential constituents, and not just the ones that will get down on their knees for you?

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This is a picture of me after I was kicked out of the town hall. I put my Romney sticker back on, and grabbed one of the R-money signs that my friend Ed had made. Photo by: Callen Harty
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Dear Representative Barca,

I was told that one reason you haven't decided to run for governor yet is because you are worried about being able to raise enough money for a campaign. Although money is normally a very big factor during elections, these are unusual times in the state of Wisconsin, and I believe this election will be unlike any we've ever seen. Yes, the candidate with more money will be able to run more tv ads, or have fancier literature, but, in my opinion, that isn't what's going to win this election. We need a candidate who has stood beside the people of Wisconsin in the past year. Someone who is not only experienced, but passionate, involved, and pissed off enough to make some serious changes. Someone who can get the people excited to get out and volunteer on their campaign.

Mr. Barca, YOU are this person. You have stood beside the people of Wisconsin on many occasions over the past year, but there are two instances that will always stick out in my mind. One time was when you stood up to Senator Fitzgerald and the other republicans who violated the opens meetings law on March 9th of last year. You were not afraid to raise your voice and let them know you would not stand for their lies and trickery, and then addressed the public and explained to them what had happened. Another time is when you moved your desk onto the Capitol law while we were locked out of our house, and then proceeded to take out your credit card and offer to pay for any damages that resulted from moving the furniture. You not only stood beside us in these tough times, but you went above and beyond your duties to stand UP for us, and we thank you for that.

If you're worried about the money, I suggest you instead look at the people around you that you have been standing up for. Because of your efforts, many of the most involved, creative, intelligent, and committed people that I have come to know in the past year are fully behind you. I hope you realize that you have an entire army of these people waiting for your command to start knocking on doors, making phone calls, and passing out lit for you. As Lori Compas said at her campaign announcement back in February, "This campaign has strengths that money can never buy." I believe the same thing would be true for you if you were to run for governor.

Please take this into consideration while deciding whether you're going to run or not, and I hope to be knocking on doors for you soon.

In Solidarity,

Jenna Pope

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Last August there was a rally in Wisconsin on a day that we called "the day of impact." It was when most public employees received their first paycheck after the cuts imposed on them by Walker's legislation. I personally know families who are now taking home up to $1000 less each month because of these cuts.
That day, many of us gathered at library mall, and we then marched down State Street towards the Capitol. By the time we got to the steps of the Capitol, there were about 2,000 of us altogether. We listened to a few speakers, and by the time the rally was over, it was about 5:55pm, which is 5 minutes before the Capitol closes. The rally organizers had a deal worked out with the Capitol police to march through the Capitol at this time, so we made our way towards the building. The officers, including police chief Charles Tubbs, even held the doors open for us.
We marched in, some with drums and megaphones, which are against the rules, but the police didn't see a problem with this. Once inside, we decided to stay and exercise our first amendment rights by chanting, singing, and holding a people's mic, where individuals have a chance to speak to the group and tell their story. At about 6:45, we heard the first announcement to leave the building. This was 45 minutes after the building closed. Many people still didn't leave at this point, but they did slowly start trickling out through the doors.
Around 7:30, most people had left, but 13 of us decided that although the building closed at 6pm, the first amendment doesn't have a closing time, so we sat down in the middle of the rotunda, clutching into an American flag. Many people leaving the building thanked us for staying and standing up for their rights.

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Photo by Callen Harty
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Here are some pictures I took during the protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol last winter. I am hoping they will remind people of how awesome and inspiring it was. Forward!

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Today the Wisconsin State Assembly voted on AB 426, a bill which is explained here. I was sitting outside of the assembly gallery posting live updates to my Facebook and Twitter during the hearing. Things got a little crazy part way into the hearing, and below I will repost my live updates (including pictures and video) from the night:

-Repubs arguing that mining bill has a "lazer-like focus on jobs" and that it's "for our future generations"

-At the assembly hearing on the mining bill. Dems asking who authored the bill. Repubs avoiding answer.

-Lots of coughing and throat clearing in disapproval from citizens in the gallery.

-Some of the coughs from the gallery during the mining bill hearing are sounding a lot like "bullshit"

-Threatening to clear gallery. Rep. Pocan argued they can't clear whole gallery. Rep. Fitzgerald arguing they can.

Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald - "If I hear one more obscenity, that gallery will be cleared."

-Staffer used walkie talkie to ask to open other gallery (one side was already full). Person on other end asked if it was filled with "regular people" or protestors.

-Via Rep. Andy Jorgensen: "Well, I put Republicans on the spot - and now they're on the record. They are ALL the authors of the mining bill."

-Several people have been arrested then unarrested without citations for holding signs or filming in assembly gallery.

-Banner drop in the assembly gallery during the mining bill hearing:
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-They're closing the galleries!!!!

-People chanting shame outside of assembly room because they cleared us from the gallery.

(People start telling me that they can hear us chanting from outside of the assembly chambers on Wisconsin Eye, which is a livestream of the assembly hearing)

-Happening right now outside of the assembly room!

-Via Rebecca Kemble: Fifty people shouting and jumping around outside Assembly Lobby "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!"

-Right now outside of assembly chambers:
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-Singing "we shall kill this bill" to the tune of "we shall overcome" outside of the assembly chambers.

-Chanting "ALEC wrote the bill" outside the assembly chambers!

-We're all writing notes to our representatives while they're in session, telling them that we're locked out of the gallery, and asking what they're going to do about it.

-Rep. Chris Taylor came out to speak to us. Said they stand in solidarity with those of us locked out of the gallery. Agreed to ask to open the galleries back up.

-Via Lisa Wells: "7:05pm: I can hear you outside the doors on WISEYE. Louder!"

-Rep. Kelda Helen Roys responded to my tweet asking her what they're going to do about us being locked out of the gallery. She said: "I will do my absolute best - we support everyone's right to watch the proceedings"

-From Rep. Kelda Helen Roys: "I first asked unanimous consent to reopen the galleries, and then when Republicans objected I moved to reopen them. Rep. Kramer, the speaker pro tempore, said my motion was out of order because he and he alone is responsible for decorum in the body."

-CJ and Damon just arrested and dragged away by cops for drumming.

-Bill passed on a party line vote. Of course.

-Craig Spaulding and his daughter Emma were in the basement of the Capitol to make a complaint after an officer put his hands on her. While they were down there, they saw CJ strapped to a gurney. WTF?!

-Well, tonight has just been one big shit storm.

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Thu Jan 26, 2012 at 08:21 AM PST

Solidarity and Unity

by BatmanWI

I posted this as a note a few months ago on my Facebook page, but I feel like it applies more to what we're going through right now in Wisconsin. We just finished collecting over one million signatures to recall 1% Walker, and this is only step one of a very long, difficult process. Solidarity and unity are more important now than ever before:

The definition of solidarity from dictionary.com:
sol·i·dar·i·ty
1. union or fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, as between members of a group or between classes, peoples, etc.: to promote solidarity among union members.
2. community of feelings, purposes, etc.
3. community of responsibilities and interests.
Synonyms
1. unity, cooperation, community. 2. unanimity.

The definition of unity:
u·ni·ty
1 .the state of being one; oneness.
2. a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one.
3. the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification.
4. absence of diversity; unvaried or uniform character.
5. oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement.

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Last night as I was leaving the city of Milwaukee via I-94, I drove underneath a footbridge near 73rd street, and I smiled. You may be wondering, "Why in the hell would a bridge make someone smile?" Well, I'll explain...
Bridges used to mean nothing to me. They were just structures made of cement and steel that I would use to drive over a river, or to walk over a highway. This was true until noise of rain invited me to hold one of his light up recall signs with the overpass light brigade in Madison, Wisconsin about a month ago. We held the signs on a footbridge over East Washington Ave. during rush hour.

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I also helped hold one of the signs in Milwaukee on a footbridge over I-94 near 73rd St.

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This is why I smile whenever I see a bridge now. My mind wanders back to those times where I stood on a bridge in the cold, holding one of the signs that spelled out "recall" as cars rushed by down below, honking either in support or in anger; it was hard to tell the difference between the two. I am reminded of the people I met while on these bridges, some of whom I've become close friends with, and some of whom I may never see again. I am reminded of the conversations we had, which usually were focused on politics. And I am reminded of the fact that Scott "1%" Walker has done one good thing since he's been in office: He has brought together many people all over the state of Wisconsin who normally wouldn't have met had it not been for him. So thank you, 1% Walker, for the friends I've made in the past year, and for causing me to smile whenever I see a bridge.

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