Milwaukee grassroots activists, labor organizers and individual citizens who are committed to the very hard work of recalling Governor Scott Walker convened this afternoon in a park near Walker's Wauwatosa residence. It was a massive turnout and what really struck me was the spirit of determination and conviction on the part of the crowd of thousands. But this isn't a grim determination, it is a joyful one. We have a sense of purpose, and more importantly, there is an amazing sense of community among people that probably didn't have much to say to each other in times past. This was a profound thing last spring in Madison, where union laborers, college students, professors, nurses, farmers and just plain old concerned folk were talking and singing and marching together. We continue with this shared sense of purpose, and what is really amazing, a sense of caring about each other. Here are some pictures and video snippets of the evening.
Kossack Badscience and I got together a week ago and were talking about the challenges of night activism. We decided that we needed lighted signs. I spent a few hours at the website Instructables looking for inspiration, and found some from my old friends at the now defunct Graffiti Research Labs. Inspired by their LED "throwies," Badscience and I worked for a couple of days on a beautiful battery powered DIY LED sign that we beta-tested tonight.
RECALL WALKER lit up like the Vegas Strip. We were immediately asked to be the backdrop behind the speakers, and I got a ton of compliments (and orders for signs). There ensued some rousing speeches: short and to the point... and then we were off to march the four blocks to Walker's neighborhood.
There were so many people that the line strung for blocks. It was massive. I gave the sign to others to carry, and we all marched along with Milwaukee's Molotov Marching Band... a terrific group of local chaos musicians who get better every time I hear them. Their polkas are pretty amazing!
There were tables set up at our neighborhood destination where we could sign the petitions. It felt pretty cool to be signing in the yards of sympathetic neighbors who offered their homes to the action. We set up the sign and asked other people to hold it. Milwaukee's wonderful poet laureate was a singing signpost for a while, having fun while the Molotov Marchers played polkas. There are moments that are hard to describe. This was one of them. I have found that I like to hand over these creative tools of activism to friends and strangers, and just let them improvise. Our sign became a beacon for the signing station, and was the focus of countless pictures. I think it will be all over Facebook!
We left at 7:00 out of respect for the neighbors. We had been asked to keep the noise down in the neighborhood, and everyone complied. It should be noted that the Walkers do not reside in their house now: they are living in the Governor's Mansion, where they can stage silly lawn parties and oversee the strategic destruction of Wisconsin. This action tonight was symbolic, festive, energetic and respectful.
So all in all, Day 1 of this 60 day campaign was a good one. There is no question that we will get the number of signatures needed to make this recall happen. The question will be whether vast amounts of rightwing money can win the final vote, or whether the power and conviction of a disaffected citizenry will take the day. But understand this: Wisconsin knows how to build a movement, and if tonight is any indication, that movement is stronger than ever!