In a major victory for the time being, the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) sent messages that protesters inside the capitol building in Madison will be allowed to stay the night. What this means come tomorrow and the allegedly desperate need to clean the capitol (as justification for clearing out those occupying the building), I do not know. I suspect that the doors to the capitol remain locked and wonder what will transpire come morning, and whether or not the police will continue to restrict the access of protesters come morning if they do not follow through with the threat of eviction. However, for now, this is a big victory and a sign that persistent popular protest is working.
Given the support of the police, firefighters, and their unions, this is also a bad sign for Governor Walker and the Republicans, for their proposed anti-union, anti-worker legislation has galvanized people far and wide. Thousands from outside Wisconsin have joined the many thousands of in-state protesters to oppose these bills. Three members of my union, GEO #6300, are in the capitol building refusing to leave, while around 100 GEO members have made trips to Wisconsin in the last week with supplies and to lend their support.
Should anything change regarding the capitol building occupation, I will be sure to let you know as soon as I can.
Update: Eric Kleefeld of TPM has confirmed the WEAC tweet with some additional details, including that some cleaning will be done tonight of the upper floors as people occupying the building sleep on the ground floor tonight. Madison police chief Charles Tubbs said, “There will be no arrests, as we said before, there will be no use of force. We want the people to continue to cooperate and work within the guidelines and the laws of the state of Wisconsin. So there’ll be no one asked to leave the Capitol tonight.”
Kleefeld also reported:
Tubbs said that various rules will remain in force: People who leave the building at night will not be able to get back in; sleeping bags and backpacks cannot be brought in during regular hours tomorrow; and food will only be brought in through an arrangement with representatives of union groups and other organizers to deliver it to the entrances.
Tubbs also commended the behavior and cooperation of protesters, saying that there had been no arrests made today. At the last time he checked, on Friday, Tubbs said there had only been about a dozen minor arrests in total over the past two weeks.
It has thus far been a fairly good relationship between the protesters and the Madison police, with Tubbs acting and speaking reasonably and in measured tones. It is quite likely that there is at least decent levels of sympathy with the protesters among their ranks. In turn, the protesters have done a very good job maintaining order inside and outside the building, especially given how large the protests have become, and of preparing for various scenarios that may unfold. Their communication with those of us observing has been vast and impressive. As before, I will keep you posted when I can should major changes in the status of the remarkable capitol occupation occur.