Thanks to a reader in Wisconsin for sending me this link to a press release from the Recall Jim Holperin Committee and video posted at the website of conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes, regarding intimidation efforts directed against Republicans seeking signatures on recall petitions against one of Wisconsin Democratic State Senators who fled to Illinois:
[Committee] Leader Kim Simac and volunteers for the Recall Jim Holperin Committee will hold a press conference tomorrow at 12:00 pm at the Lincoln County Courthouse.
This is the location of the conflict between Recall Petition Signers and Union Protesters last Thursday, March 10, 2011.
The petition rally was originally scheduled at a local Merrill restaurant but was relocated after the proprietors received many phone calls and felt they needed to back out. The committee then set up in front of the Lincoln County Courthouse to offer citizens an opportunity to sign their names to the petition. Over 1,000 calls had been sent out the previous day notifying area residents of the petition rally.
Upon arrival, members of the recall committee were encircled by union protesters carrying signs and a leader with a mega phone who began chanting and ranting loudly. They packed in tightly around the petition collection table so as to prevent those attempting to sign from doing so. At one point, a pro union protester, pretending to be interested in signing the petition, wrote profanity across a partially collected petition form, than began ripping up the completed petitions that were in close proximity.
The policemen who were there, and who were standing in close proximity to these events as they unfolded, did nothing to assist those collecting the petitions as they were being destroyed, despite such an action being a Felony under Wisconsin law. Police also did nothing to clear the walk way for citizens that wanted to sign the petitions. Recall Committee members received many phone calls the following day from Merill area citizens who stated that they showed up to sign the petition, but were too afraid to get out of their vehicles and approach the recall table.
The local police deny failing to act, and instead say they were not given enough information to make an arrest.
This report is confirmed by a story from a local television station:
Emotions ran high as ralliers took to the Lincoln County Courthouse, calling for the recall of Democratic State Senator Jim Holperin, one of the 14 senators who fled the state more than three weeks ago.
Organizers say the rally was originally scheduled at Club 64 in Merrill, but they had to change locations after business owners say they received more than 50 phone calls threatening to destroy their business and cause physical harm if the rally took place.
Protestors both for and against the recall showed up. Even though they initially kept their distance, Holperin supporters engulfed the recall effort, and that’s when the situation turned tense.
“They circled around us, and they’re bullying us. They have a loud horn and they’re trying to intimidate people that would like to come and sign the petition,” said Kim Simac, recall leader, “I do think that this is an intimidation ploy.”
Simac says protestors even got involved with their petitions.
“We had a lady come up and write profanity and rip some of them right on our table…. so I guess that’s what democracy looks like to them.”
Update 3-16-2011: Wisconsin County Chair: Unions don’t care “as long as they got theirs”
Video: Wisconsin Protesters Surround Bus With Republican Senators, Bang on Windows and Doors
My First Media Matters Post
Great Morning – MoveOn Confirms Paltry Protest Numbers And Village Voice Messes Up