Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for November 29th, 2011

Walker Recall Petitions hit 300,000 Sigs . . . Walker Recall Petitioners Harassed in Racine

with 2 comments

With the statewide Wisconsin recalls of Governor Scott Walker (R), Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R), and our local recall of district 21 Senator Van Wanggaard (R), have come problems.  But first, the good news . . . statewide organizers from and the Democratic Party (two separate things) have both reported that over 300,000 recall signatures have been gathered in the first twelve days.

As the story from the Racine Journal-Times says:

People have signed the recall petitions at the rate of about 1,040 per hour, according to United Wisconsin. The group says signatures have been collected from people in all 72 counties in Wisconsin, including:

• 10,033 residents from Columbia County.

• 4,713 in Pierce County.

• 3,698 in Oneida County.

• 16,845 in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties.

• 8,540 in Portage County.

Racine County numbers were not available.

Now, note these numbers; Racine County is more populous than any of those other counties.  Also, all of those counties are known as Republican-leaning or heavily Republican districts . . . which is bad news for Scott Walker and his backers, for sure.

This may be why recall advocates and petitioners, even in Racine County, are now having trouble with people harassing them, stealing signs, and in one case even driving straight at a crowd of people attempting to gather signatures.  (See this story from the Racine Journal-Times for further details.)  As Kelly Gallagher said in the recent Journal-Times article:

Kelly Gallaher, the organizer for the local progressive group Community for Change, said when she was with a group of people on Friday near a laundromat by River Run Family Restaurant, 3616 Northwestern Ave., someone sped directly at a group of organizers. People ran out of the way, she said. “It was that close,” Gallaher said.

Also on Saturday, a driver deliberately backed his vehicle toward people collecting signatures outside All Sports Pub, 3458 Rapids Drive, Gallaher said. That same day, Gallaher said someone threw a big glass of soda or some other drink at a man collecting signatures outside the Social Security Office, 4020 Durand Ave.

“It’s concerning,” Gallaher said. “My biggest fear is that someone is going to get hurt.”

And what have the local Republican Party folks done about this?  Not a whole lot.  While condemning incidents like this (without admitting they actually have happened, mind you), Racine Republican Party Chairman Bill Folk was more concerned about the recall petitioners getting signatures outside local businesses.  From the Journal-Times article (the same one that quoted Gallagher):

While Folk has not heard directly about people harassing people collecting recall signatures, he said he has heard complaints about people collecting signatures on property where they shouldn’t be, which concerns him.

“If they are not getting permission from the business owners, it’s exposing the business owners to a political segment they may or may not agree with,” Folk said. “They are putting a business owner in an awkward situation politically.”

Of course, Gallagher pointed out that at the three businesses she knew of where inappropriate and scary things had happened, the recall petitioners did have permission to be there.   So this was just another attempt by Folk and his Republican colleagues to divert attention from what’s really going on — and that’s sad.

Now, as for some commentary from the peanut gallery (or at least me):
Because I am left-leaning, politically, that doesn’t mean I have lost my right to free speech.  As Lieutenant Gary Larsen of the Caledonia Police Department said in the Journal-Times article, you must leave people’s stuff alone if it’s on their property.  And you certainly don’t have the right to drive at a bunch of protestors to “scatter” them — you could hurt someone badly by doing this.
I have always advocated that anyone, providing he or she is peacefully going about his or her business, has a right to protest.  I don’t care if it’s the TEA Party or if it’s Occupy Wall Street or if it’s the Walker/Kleefisch/Wanggaard recall petitioners; we all have a right to peacefully protest without having things thrown at us or without having someone aim a car at us for trying to exercise our rights of free speech and freedom of assembly under the United States Constitution.
See, this is what we’ve endured in Wisconsin since the Scott Walker administration got into power in January of 2011.  This is why many people of all stripes — all creeds, sects, nationalities, genders, and political persuasions — want Walker and his Republican allies, including Van Wanggaard, out.
And it’s definitely why I want them out.  Which is why I’m once again exercising my right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution by pointing out that what’s happened to the petitioners is wrong.  It is shameful.  It should not be allowed to stand.
Recall Walker.  Recall Kleefisch.  Recall Wanggaard.  And for the love of God/dess and little green apples, stop harassing the recall petitioners.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 29, 2011 at 10:16 pm