Protests at the Capitol were at least 100,000 strong on Saturday, and I was among them. I was back on Sunday afternoon to participate in a knit-in. I left before the 4:00pm deadline when people were supposed to clear out or risk arrest, and I've been home since then with a sick child. I'm not sure when I'll make it downtown again, but I've been following local news sources and live feeds rather obsessively to keep up with what is going on there.
And it's not pretty. The Governor's Budget address is this afternoon, and his administration is making every attempt to restrict public access to the Capitol building, citing security concerns. After two weeks of entirely peaceful protests, during which there were no arrests and no reports of violence (aside from one citation of a woman who spit on a 10-year-old girl), even with thousands and thousands of people occupying the Capitol day and night, the police have been ordered not to let anyone in without a state ID or invitation from a legislator. In addition, the Republican senators have instituted some new rules aimed at putting pressure on the Fab 14 - the fourteen Democratic senators who remain in Illinois to stall vote on the bill. One new rule is that they are no longer being paid by direct deposit, and must show up in person to pick up their paychecks, which are locked in someone's desk in the Capitol building. Another rule is that they must sign their staffers' timesheets in person, which means their staffers are no longer being paid. Their copy codes for copy machines have been yanked.
Lawsuits have been filed. There's a formal complaint to the Labor Relations Board against Scott Walker for refusing to come to the bargaining table to negotiate. There are legal and ethical questions about Walker's ties to the GOP and his consideration to plant troublemakers in the protest crowds after that prank call from Ian Murphy posing as David Koch. There are challenges to the constitutionality of restricting public access to the Capitol during business hours.
The mainstream national media isn't providing adequate coverage, so here are some links for those of you wanting more details:
Live blog from the Isthmus - continuing coverage on the ground and inside
Representative turned away from Capitol (Madison Cap Times)
Learn more about what exactly is collective bargaining and how it works.
NYTimes article from Monday about protesters locked out of Capitol
Excellent article by John Nichols from The Nation about Saturday's protest
Channel3000 story on Republicans putting pressure on Democratic senators in Illinois re: staffer timesheets and copy machines
WSEU files unfair labor practice charge against Walker (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
So does AFSCME!