What we are witnessing in the streets of Madison is unprecedented in modern American history.
The Huffington Post estimates that the protests have, at their peak, amounted to 70,000 people. And they’re only getting bigger.
There is so little I can add that hasn’t already been said – or witnessed. Words cannot express the feeling at the Capitol or what this means to the changing consciousnesses of those involved. It has to be experienced to be understood. Get to the Capitol!
The teachers at my alma mater, Rufus King High School, have closed down the school and many have made their way to Madison. Students at the school staged a spontaneous walkout in protest against Governor Walker’s policies. I am so proud to be an alumnus of this institution.
My one hope is that this massive, beautiful movement will come to encompass other struggles for justice. We are starting to see the beginnings of this solidarity, with UTI carrying a banner entitled “Immigrants Support Unions” and a member of Fair WI appearing on the Ed Schultz Show commenting on the commitment of the LGBT community to the current labor movement. Next on the docket at the Capitol are massive cuts to education and social services and an Arizona-style anti-immigrant bill. We need to bring all of these issues together under one banner – in the 60’s they called it “The Movement.” An injury to one is truly an injury to all.
And then there have been the “Tea Tory” counter-protests. They are (almost) all white and all monied. One can’t help but remember that throughout the twentieth century, workers’ struggles have always faced massive resistance from what eventually becomes fascism. Thankfully, their numbers have been pathetic in comparison to those who have showed up to support the dignity and welfare of working people.
People have been sleeping in the Capitol, missing class, calling in sick to work, braving freezing temperatures – but what else could possibly be more worthwhile at this moment in history! Here in 2011, in the streets of Madison, people are finally holding the line and shouting, “Enough!” The labor movement, working people, democracy – the decades-long assault will stop here. As so many commenters have noted, the country has its eyes on Wisconsin.
This fight will not stop until we are victorious.
Peace and solidarity.