Photo Essay: Madison Wisconsin protest - The faces of democracy Special
These images were taken February 26 2011 during the afternoon protests against Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker's controversial 'Budget Repair Bill'.
Demonstrators numbering well over 70,000 people have taken to the streets around the Capitol in protest
of proposed measures to curtail collective bargaining rights for all public employees in the state (effectively rendering unions useless). The bill, among other controversial proposals, would make union dues optional, again severely truncating the role of unions, would require public employees already paid a meager income to contribute even more of their salary toward their pension, and would also require public workers to pick up a larger share of their health insurance premiums.
It's been reported
nationwide rallies have sprung up to support the Wisconsin demonstrators.
In speaking with protestors and listening to speakers, it is evident that the targets of the protests over the last two weeks have swelled into something more than just the continued existence of unions in the state. Several protestors described it as a developing 'battle' between the upper and lower classes, an attack on the middle class, an attack on the left in general through a concerted Republican effort on the state level in many states across the nation.
Whatever one's political leaning, the faces of those in attendance at the protests speak volumes and the images below, including the signs and placards on display, attest to the rage and resistance that is fuelling this citizen-led movement. It is not just radicalized youth or left-wing agitators. Firemen, electricians, corrections officers, teachers, the disabled, the elderly, even some Republicans are marching day after day, sleeping inside the Capitol. This is what democracy looks like.
Scores of citizens have been camping out inside the Capitol building over the past two weeks.
The police presence so far has been minimal. No arrests have been made. The protest has been entirely peaceful.