State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee
UPDATE: From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Greenbay WI man arrested for battery.
Around 1 p.m. Tuesday, a group of protesters was participating in their daily singalong in the Capitol rotunda, when two men along with former state Sen. David Zien began interrupting their singing.
According to Sue Trace, one of the participants in the singalong, Zien yelled “Walker for president” while two men draped Zien’s “Don’t Tread On Me” flag over the singers’ heads.
The two men were Green Bay resident Henry Rahr and Shorewood, Minn., resident Eugene German.
Michael Dickman, 50, said Rahr and German were bumping into him along with other singers and grabbing their banners. Dickman said he tried to pull the flag away from Rahr. Dickman said Rahr then put him in a headlock and punched him in the face, chipping his front tooth.
For months, peaceful citizens have gathered in the Wisconsin State Capitol at lunch time to sing. The local media has covered this activity widely and almost universally, save for the likes of WIBA right wing radio instigator Vicki McKenna, have characterized it as a fun, family-friendly event. Today, the sing-a-long turned violent and it wasn’t because of the singers. Former republican senator and gun activist Dave Zein showed up with thugs in tow and assaulted a participant after aggressively taunting the protestors with a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. How fitting that the alleged aggressor happened to be wearing a brown shirt.
From Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, via Facebook this afternoon:
“One way to ensure that the peaceful protests at the Capitol aren’t peaceful anymore is for a Republican ex-Senator to come in with his friends, one of whom punches a peaceful protestor in the face. Which just happened. Everyone should condemn this, especially Walker & Republican leadership.”
So what happened?
Tweets about the incident:
“Cop count last week @Solidarity Singalong, 5-10 officers at any time. 2day during violent Tea Party, gun nut attack? ZERO!!! #wiunion”
“Solidarity friends confirm Tea bagger put a singer in a headlock & threw at least 1 punch. Frmr Rep St Sen Dave Zwien part of assault party”
“a singer tried to grab their sign. One of the men put the singer in a headlock, punched him and broke his tooth.”
“Dave Zien raced his wheelchair around grnd level singing circle. He forced singers to move back as he nearly ran over everyone’s feet.”
“Singalong friend: “The cameraman (Fox 6 News) was yukking it up with the assaulters and Dave Zien after the incident.”
“FoxNews 6 from Milwaukee was filming the whole time. There wasn’t a single police officer in sight!”
“Maybe if law enforcement had been monitoring Teabagger social networks instead of #wiunion, they could have prevented today’s attack. #wiall”
From Solidarity Sing-A-Long participant CS via the sing-a-long group on facebook:
I was there and saw exactly what Kati described. Those tough men who aggressively swiped their “Don’t Tread on Me” banner over our faces while we were singing? . . . they were doing that to WOMEN, almost entirely, just 2 men were singing along the rail on the upper floor where I was! I say to them “Don’t Tread on US Please.”
This is so sad-I’ve come to the Singalong almost every day for many weeks. I sing to restore my spirit. Always a peaceful, good-natured event; there are often small children around. Thankfully, not today.
It’s doubly disturbing that they chose to attack us on the final day of debate on Conceal Carry. I fear for Wisconsin if there are many people like them.
Former Sen. Dave Zein in the wheelchair, alleged right wing extremists standing with him. Photo: Anna Liska, Facebook.
And that’s the thing; the Solidarity-Sing-A-Long is intended to be a peaceful, family-friendly event. I’m sure there are many concealed carry advocates that don’t believe that violence is the answer. Unfortunately for this guy, and double so for the victim, it appears that the perpetrator damaged a tooth during the assault which likely elevates his potential charge to a felony. The only good news is that if this guy is convicted, he won’t be able to own a firearm, much less carry a concealed weapon. And former State Sen. Dave Zein should be ashamed of himself for apparently leading those engaged in such a thuggish assault on peaceful protest singers. What would have happened if this guy were packing heat? One of the mantra’s of the concealed carry set is that they are responsible law-abiding citizens. The problem with that logic is that it fails to address hot heads, tyrants and bullies who have been fortunate enough to maybe not have had negative police contact…yet. So after more than 125 days of protesting the only assault appears to be perpetrated by a gun rights activist and tea party member. Hopefully Gov. Walker and GOP leadership should condemn the violence perpetrated by their supporters.
More info from Kati Walsh via a facebook note about the incident:
And the tweet that REALLY angered me? The guy that defended Solidarity Singers receives a disorderly conduct ticket. Really? Because if the police would have been there, then a citizen wouldn’t have had to step up to make sure others were safe!
“”Pizza Box Mike received a citation for Disorderly Conduct. He acted in our defense. The charge should be dropped immediately.” – NDS”
From a Solidarity Sing Along participant:
I wrote this email to channel 3 of my account of the events, If you have anything to add, as there were many observers, please feel free to comment below:
I was at the capitol as a participant in the Solidarity Sing Along today from 12 to 1pm. There were 3 Tea Party protestors there during most of the hour of the sing along. I was on the second floor balcony of the rotunda hanging one of those long vertical banners down. The tea partiers had their “Don’t Tread on Me” snake flag and the two ambulatory tea partiers were walking around, holding up their flag for most of the hour– other people told me this, I hadn’t noticed them until the incident b/c they were up on the third floor for most of the hour and I was busy reading the lyrics from the songbook. Meanwhile the third teabagger was on the ground floor of the singing circle going around, supposedly running over people’s toes in his wheelchair, and people had to step back as he was coming too close to them saying ” Walker should be president”…
The singing went on peacefully as it always does right up until the last few minutes, right before 1pm when the sing along is over. The teabaggers with the flag came onto the second floor and and hung their flag over the balcony and then they began walking around the circle holding their flag over the balcony. As they would encounter a participant in the sing along, they would just continue walking, and would drape their flag right over people’s faces and/or banners if they were holding one. When these two men continued around the circle to where I was standing, holding my banner, I took a few steps away from the balcony edge still holding my banner as a way to prevent these men from putting their flag over me, but they continued to do it anyway.
Just as they were draping their flag across my face, a member of the sing along came over, told the men to stop it, and pulled their flag down. instantly, the shorter tea partier grabbed this guy in a headlock and punched him in the mouth which resulted in a broken tooth. The guy who got punched did not initiate any physical force against either of the tea partiers holding the flag, he just was grabbing and trying to pull down their flag, never touching either of the men until he was trying to get himself free from the headlock. Some more sing along people came over and tried to break up the fight. moments later the police came upstairs to assess the situation. Several eyewitnesses including myself gave statements to the police and everyone who was involved in the assault.
I was standing right there next to one of the tea partiers and saw the whole thing. This was only my second time at the sing along, and am saddened by the violence that occured today. This is the 15th week I believe of the sing along Mondays through Fridays, and the first time there was ever a violent incident instigated by the opposing side. they were very hostile and were trying to provoke and get a reaction from us. why would they drape their flag right over our faces, touching us, bumping their elbows into the sides of our heads as they walk across us to show their flag? They could have stayed in their own space and made their statement, or they could have even gone into the middle of the circle if all they wanted to do was make a statement. The Solidarity sing along is a peaceful, positive, fun and energetic hour. my grandma has taken my 5 year old daughter many times over the past several weeks when I was still teaching during the school year and it was always a fun and safe place to bring elderly or young children and everyone in between. Today was a sad day for the sing along.
Another point is that several singers saw a fox news affiliate- fox 6 out of Milwaukee, and claimed that their cameras were rolling before the fight took place and that they may have it on video. There was some speculation that these people were hired or encouraged to come and cause trouble and disrupt our sing along, and they had the fox cameras there to record it as a way to put negative spin on the events at the capitol.
Thank you and I hope that this and other similar stories are covered in a fair and balanced manner to inform the public.