Scott Walker's capitol police corps came under criticism for its crackdown from a fellow Wisconsin police officer on Friday.
"I'm really angered at my brethren police officers who are arresting people who pose no threat to public safety," said Tom Alisankus, a police officer in a small town in Wisconsin. "They swore to uphold the Constitution, and by arresting people here they are being more beholden to Scott Walker than to the Constitution, which is very distasteful for me as an officer of 31 years."
Alisankus also is a lawyer and a teacher of criminal justice at Rock Valley College in Rockford. He said he was dismayed at police priorities.
"I'm trying to get my head around why this is a priority for law enforcement," he said. "There are so many accidents on I-90. So why are the state troopers arresting 80-year-olds? That's crazy for me as a cop."
He also wondered about the mentality of the participating police officers. "I'm trying to decide whether they just want to keep their jobs, or whether they believe in what they're doing," he said.
He had come to Madison, he said, to watch the Solidarity Sing Along, which was held outside, as is the custom on Fridays.
A spirited group of around 200 protesters were participating in the Sing Along on the grounds of the capitol.
Coming on the heels of yesterday's arrests of a city council member, three Raging Grannies, an eighty-five-old man, other protesters, and me (just trying to do my journalistic job), the Solidarity Singers were in proud form.
Photo by Joe Lynde.
The protesters sang "We Shall Overcome," with a rousing verse of "Walker Won't Be Governor, Some Day."
And they sang other freedom songs in their repertoire, including "We're Going to Sing for Wisconsin, Down at the Sing Along," to the tune of "Down By the Riverside." Verses included, "We're going to sing for free speech down at the Sing Along," and "We're going to sing for reproductive rights down at the Sing Along."
They also sang "O, Freedom," with verses of "No more tickets over me" and "No more permits over me."
One woman held a up sign that read, "Arrest Miners, Not Minors," in reference to a Walker-approved iron mine in northern Wisconsin.
Linda Danielson, a social worker, was there with her seven-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. "Thank You for Singing," read the cardboard sign Linda carried. Her son's cardboard sign said: "Scott Walker, Take a Walk."
I asked her why she was at the protest.
"Because I have children," she said, "and I care about their future."
Three visitors from Paris, France, were sitting in the sun on the stairway of the capitol, admiring the protest.
Photo by Joe Lynde.
"It's a very friendly atmosphere," said Claire Knudson, who was there with her husband, Peter, and son, Nils. "The solidarity is wonderful. I've never seen anything like it."
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