Today marked the 500th consecutive weekday, noon hour Solidarity Sing Along at the Wisconsin State Capitol building, as the Sing Along began exactly 100 weeks ago. What started as a small idea in the mind of Steve Burns on March 11th, 2011 following the amoral passage of public sector union-busting Act 10, has taken off and established itself as an ever present, perpetually peaceful, figurative middle finger to the actions of Scott Walker, his rubber stamp legislature and the millionaires and billionaires pulling their strings. The faces and songs may change on a daily basis, but the passion is always simmering and the memories of the Uprising of 2011 and the spirit of those who cannot be there are never far from the minds of those in attendance. I wasn't able to become a regular participant until last February, but I've been thrilled to have had the good fortune to take part and lend my voice to many harmonious gatherings since then as we proudly and defiantly exercise our pesky 1st Amendment rights to assemble, protest our government and petition for a redress of grievances.
Photo courtesy of my friend Lisa Wells, who has dutifully taken tens of thousands of photographs encompassing nearly ever day of the Solidarity Sing Along's existence.
The Sing Along remains the unyielding heartbeat of the Wisconsin Movement and reigns supreme as undoubtedly the longest continuous singing protest in United States history. The Walker regime and his Department of Administration have been trying to get rid of us for the past five months so they can go about their business of ravaging our state in "peace and quiet" without having to ever hear the voices of everyday Wisconsin citizens. Unfortunately for them, we have refused to be intimidated and have stood our ground in the Rotunda in opposition to, but also fueled by, their draconian tactics of suppression.
They've taken notes on our descriptions, they've filmed us from balconies. They've arrested individuals for holding signs, banners and t-shirts, they've arrested individuals for chalking. They've arrested individuals for releasing balloons, they've arrested individuals for freely speaking their mind in the public space of the Capitol Rotunda. They've targeted individuals for exhibiting "leadership" roles, they've cited people merely for observing the Sing Along, essentially charging them with "guilt by association." They've sent multiple police officers to deliver citations to individuals' homes, again, again and again. They've even sent officers to deliver citations at an individual's place of work. They've kept an unconscious, disabled veteran handcuffed after she had the temerity to speak out against Capitol Police Chief David Erwin's outrageous claims that we "terrorize" others in the Capitol, they've harassed an ACLU observer for taking down the badge numbers of Capitol Police officers and later arrested her after digging up an insignificant civil case from her past. Hell, they even created a McCarthyesque list in order to take attendance and monitor the activities of "usual suspects" who regularly show up to protest through song, going so far as to include the name of my Democratic Assembly Representative, Chris Taylor. Many of the citations given out to peaceful protesters during the Crackdown have been dismissed, and the Department of Justice has yet to successfully prosecute a single case since they were put in charge of handling civil forfeitures back in August. After all of that, make no mistake about it: We're still here.
So here's to the next 100 weeks of peacefully protesting the fascist government of Fitzwalkerstan through songs sung loudly, passionately and sometimes beautifully. Conveniently, 100 weeks from today will mark the inaugural week in 2015 for a NEW GOVERNOR, and a celebration for a return to the proud, democratic state known as Wisconsin, Local 1848. Can't wait. Solidarity.
6:03 PM PT: Thank you to everyone who has read, tipped, recced and republished my diary, helping this diary and our story make it onto the Rec List! However, I have to step away from the computer to help celebrate a friend's birthday, so I won't be available to respond to comments for a few hours, but I'll be back on later!