Last weekend I mentioned Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman (R), who went on TV and said the protest movement in Wisconsin was nothing more than a bunch of kids “up for a demonstration.” One thing I didn’t mention there – I saw him later that day. I wouldn’t have recognized him without seeing him earlier on MSNBC, but he was in one of the hallways on the ground floor, peeking out at the protesters in the Rotunda. I was headed out the door at the time, and I thought about turning around and questioning him on the AFSCME corrections officers who just paraded through the Capitol, and which one of them was the kid up for a demonstration. But by the time I made the decision he was gone.
This is significant because the right is trying to gin up yet another example of “union thuggery” by claiming that Grothman was chased by protesters after last night’s budget address from Gov. Scott Walker. And predictably, this tells far too little of the story. In fact, Grothman, unlike any of his Republican colleagues in the legislature, went down into the common areas of the Capitol to exit. Every other legislative Republican managed to find a different way out – probably through that side door where the lobbyists came in before the speech (search for the word “lobbyists” on that link, it’s far down the page). Just like when I saw him on Saturday, he was down there to see if he could stir up trouble and become a martyr.
And all that happened is that Grothman had to endure protesters yelling “Shame, shame” and then couldn’t find an exit (his pal Gov. Walker had them all blocked) until a Democratic Representative came to his rescue:
Madison.com however doesn’t bother to show how it was resolved. That is that Democratic Representative Brett Hulsey along with marshals were able to defuse the situation and have the protesters move back and form a corridor for Sen Grothman to leave.
Grothman whined about this afterwards, and the usual suspects played it up as “proof” of thuggishness. These are the same people who lie about being punched and show video with a palm tree in it to “prove” Wisconsin protesters are violent.
But if we want to talk about thugs, well then, fine, let’s do it.
At least 3 of the handful of protesters allowed to watch Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget address from the State Capitol’s Assembly Gallery Tuesday evening were ejected from the Gallery, escorted out by State Patrols.
“I was one of the 20 people invited in from the general public,” said David Wasserman, a Madison Metropolitan School District teacher at Sennett Middle School.
He didn’t get to stay for long.
“We looked at the list of things we weren’t supposed to do – we knew we weren’t supposed to clap, we knew we weren’t supposed to have our cell phones on,” Wasserman said of the rules posted in the Assembly Chamber, noting that all the Republicans in the Assembly Chamber were clapping and cheering for Walker’s address.
“Then, the woman next to me, who I don’t even know, stood up when everyone was clapping, and she booed,” he said. She realized she had broken the rules, Wasserman said, and voluntarily left, escorted by an officer.
Shortly thereafter, a sheriff came back to Wasserman’s seat and said, “You two [David and his friend Thi] are going to have to be escorted out.”
Wasserman explained: “And we said, ‘We didn’t do anything! What did we do?!’ This other woman was screaming. We weren’t clapping. We weren’t whistling and cheering. We weren’t doing anything we weren’t supposed to be doing.”
According to Wasserman, two State Patrol officers escorted them out around 4:40 p.m., before the end of Walker’s address, passing them from sheriff to sheriff on the way out. They kept asking, “Why do you keep escorting us out? What did we do? Why?” Wasserman noted the initial two sheriffs who escorted Wasserman and Thi from the Gallery never responded as to why they were ejected from the address.
I have reports that at least two other protesters were dragged out of the Capitol by police. And as for those who couldn’t get in yesterday, they slept outside on the lawn.
Meanwhile, nobody was allowed to enter the Capitol from 4:15 and 5:30 pm yesterday, during Scott Walker’s budget address, in violation of a court order. That court order remains in place today.
So if you want to talk about thuggish behavior, you’re going to have to do better than a guy looking for trouble getting yelled at and then helped on his way out. You may want to talk to the people dragged out forcibly by police.
UPDATE: More Grothman nonsense.