Tag Archives: Solidarity singers

Fighting Bob Fest

The fight against the “robber barons” lives on at the annual Fighting Bob Fest. The progressive political festival, named for “Fighting Bob” La Follette, is now in its 13th year. It kicks off with an event on Friday at the Barrymore Theater, 2090 Atwood Ave., that features appearances by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Solidarity Singers and comedian Will Durst. The real thing starts the next day in Baraboo at the Sauk County Fairgrounds, where gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke will join the festivities, including break-out political education segments and additional speakers. Admission is free, although donations are accepted.

Visit fightingbobfest.org for more details.

7 p.m. on Fri., Sept. 12 (Madison); 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 13 (Baraboo)

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Pussy Riot expresses solidarity with Wisconsin protesters

Members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot appear in a video showing their solidarity with Wisconsin progressives arrested in protests at the Capitol in Madison.

The video by the Voice Project highlights the Solidarity Singers’ campaign and calls on Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to drop charges against protesters.

Band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina appear near the end of the more than 6-minute video and say, “Solidarity with Wisconsin.” They also encourage the Solidarity Sing-A-Longs sparked by Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union push in 2011.

The video was released to mark three years of the struggle against the right-wing Walker administration.

Members of Pussy Riot were imprisoned in Russia for speaking out against oppression and the rule of President Vladimir Putin. Members of the band were whipped by a cossack while protesting at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

On the Web …

http://www.spin.com/articles/pussy-riot-wisconsin-video-solidarity-protest/

https://www.facebook.com/SolidaritySingAlong

Walker’s disapproval rating at 49 percent

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s approval rating is about the same as it was seven months ago – 48 percent, according to a survey of Wisconsin voters by Public Policy Polling. His disapproval rating is at 49 percent.

The conservative Republican eads by 4-7 points in potential Democratic challengers when voters are asked about the 2014 gubernatorial race.

More than 60 percent of those polled said they weren’t sure about potential Democratic opponents Kathleen Vinehunt, Mary Burke, Peter Barca or Tom Nelson.

Looking at voting ages, Walker’s approval rating is lowest with those 18-29. And about 65 percent of the voters in that age range  would cast a ballot for the Democrat in 2014.

The PPP survey also found that only 20 percent of Wisconsinites support the challenged law rolling back reproductive freedoms and access to abortion in the state. 

Also, 45 percent of voters say the Solidarity Singers who have staged daily demonstrations at the state Capitol should not be required to get a permit, as the Walker administration has mandated.

About 41 percent of voters think otherwise. 

The survey found that 72 percent of Republicans think permits should be required and 17 percent of Democrats.

The poll, conducted Sept. 13-16 and with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9, found the president’s approval rating dropping from 50 percent in February to 47 percent in September.

PPP conducted the poll in automated telephone interviews. It noted on a news release that the poll was not paid for by any campaign or political party.

Private militias, Capitol arrests spur outrage

Owners of a proposed open-pit mine in the Penokee Hills engaged a paramilitary force to guard the area after Native American  tribal leaders established an “education center” nearby.

The camp has drawn numerous environmentalists and protesters to the scene of the hotly contested project.

The Iron County Board recently postponed voting on a recommendation to pursue criminal or civil action against the campers. But county supervisors did agree to ask their forestry committee to take another look at the Penokee Harvest and Education Camp set up by the Lac Courte Orielles band of Lake Superior Chippewa near the site of Gogebic Taconite’s proposed mine.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, over the objection of Wisconsin’s 11 tribes and many citizens in the region, eased the way for the mining operation earlier this year by signing legislation that relaxed pollution and other regulations.

A website for the tribe describes the off-reservation camp on Iron County forest land as a place to “educate visitors and locals about geology, ecology, traditional lifeways and Anishinaabe treaty rights.”

In late May, after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved a permit for Gogebic to conduct exploratory drilling in the area, the camp population began to grow. Environmentalists responded to the tribe’s invitation to “come relax in the woods while giving your vacation a purpose.”

In July, the Iron County Board forestry committee recommended that supervisors take legal action against the camp. The county forest administrator complained that the camp violates a county ordinance requiring a permit to occupy the land for more than two weeks.

However, District Attorney Marty Lipske cautioned that under treaty rights – treaties of 1837 and 1842 – the tribe has special privileges on the forest land.

And representatives from the camp say they are staying, even if they received an eviction notice from the county. 

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services opened an investigation after receiving complaints related to Gogebic Taconite’s hiring of an Arizona firm, Bulletproof Securities, to police the area. The armed guards were assigned to protect the mining operations after conflicts with protesters that resulted in the arrest of one demonstrator said to be associated with Earth First.

On its website, Bulletproof Securities promotes its “strong record of accurately assessing risk and providing a security solution to control the risk rather than react to it” and promises experience in personal security detail, dealing with eco-terrorism and economic sabotage, border security, de-bugging, and armored vehicles services.

Gogebic defended employing the guards, but suspended their work after it was revealed that Bulletproof lacked a license to work in Wisconsin. Then, on Aug. 5, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Safety and Professional Services announced the firm is now licensed and the guards would soon return to the site.

Several Democratic lawmakers objected to the paramilitary-style guards, who were photographed in camouflage uniforms and masks, carrying semi-automatic weapons on public land.

Democratic state Sen. Bob Jauch called any aggression by protesters “idiotic,” but said nothing justified the hiring of a security force armed with assault weapons.

“The majority party in Wisconsin has a track record of not following the law, so it’s no surprise that their special interest friends were found acting in an illegal manner,” said state Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, referring to Bulletproof as “an out-of-state heavily armed, private paramilitary militia.”

Repressive dictatorship?

Sargent also took issue with the repeated arrests of peaceful protesters assembling daily at the state Capitol for the Solidarity Sing Along.

“I am appalled that the Walker Administration has decided to forcibly silence the voices of those who wish to peaceably assemblewwww in our state capitol,” Sargent said. “Time and again, Scott Walker has pushed policies that have inspired the people of our state to speak out. Whether it’s 20 people or 100,000, the right to free speech is not up for debate. It is enshrined in our state constitution.”

The Solidarity Sing Along dates to March 2011 and the massive protests against Walker’s push to limit collective bargaining and the rights of state workers, along with other items on the tea party agenda. Every weekday since, there has been a sing along at the Capitol at noon.

In late July, authorities began arresting the singers, citing them for demonstrating in the Rotunda without a permit. The arrests came five months after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the Walker administration from requiring permits for demonstrations inside the Capitol for groups as small as four people.

On July 8, the judge in the case granted a preliminary injunction allowing groups of up to 20 people to gather without a permit inside the Capitol and a trial date on the merits of the ACLU case was set for Jan. 13, 2014.

ACLU of Wisconsin legal director Larry Dupuis cheered the judge’s action as a “huge victory for free speech.” 

But soon after the judge issued the temporary injunction, Capitol police began arresting protesters, whose songbook includes variations on “We Shall Overcome,” “This Land is Your Land” and “If I Had a Hammer,” along with some relatively new folk tunes, including “The Koch Song” and “Scotty, We’re Comin’ for You.”

The demonstrators, whose numbers have exceeded 20 people, refuse to get permits, maintaining they have a right to protest under the Wisconsin Constitution. Article 1, Section 4 of the document states, “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

After witnessing arrests on July 24, Sargent said, “What I saw today was something I would expect out of a repressive dictatorship, not the state I love to call home.”