What's this Blog About?

Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Updates on the Fight at the Tea Pary Rally in Milwaukee Today

I posted this blog earlier today and more information has come in, so I want to make sure I keep the facts current.

The blog is my first hand experience at a Tea Bagger Rally on Milwaukee's lakefront today. It's a bit disjointed and more information has come in since I wrote the original post (in the heat of the moment) so I want to relay what's come in since and clarify my comments so far.

I want to start by reiterating my belief that the man was in danger by a large group of angry people. I don't know why, I just know that he was being followed by an angry mob. I still don't know the circumstances prior to the portion I saw. All I know is what I actually saw. Other eyewitness accounts are coming in and I'm not sure what happened before the part I reported on.

I also missed Joe the Plumber's actual involvement in it all and I said that in the original blog. I really don't know personally because I didn't see it, but I suspect from the people who've posted on my blog that he may have been trying to calm down the people attacking the guy.

Unfortunately I missed that part of it and only saw him in the middle of the crowd as previously stated.

One commentor on my blog stated: Joe the Plumber joined in and he WAS BREAKING UP THE SQUABBLE! He had a booth set up and when he saw what was happening he got between the squabbling. So don't slur him. He said to me, "we don't need this." I agree.

This suggests JTPe may have seen the portion of this that I saw and was not happy with the way it looked... similar to my reaction. I suspect more on this story will come out today.

I strongly suggest you read ALL the comments and take my perspective into account as it's accurate to what I saw and experienced, but may not tell the entire story since I freely admitted in the post that I didn't see everything.

I want in particular to discuss the free speech issue. No one from government was quelling free speech today and I'm not saying they should have. The people at this rally had every right to say what they thought, and by God, they took full advantage of that right LOL! I would defend their right to speak and would be the first to say something if their right to speak was infringed on by the government. Anyone can make a comment about anything they want as long as they don't explicitly say, "attack that guy" and a group of people attack that guy.

My question goes to responsibility for your speech and this is a careful line to draw. Just because you have the right to say something, should you say it? That's a moral question that each individual in a free society should make. My questions in the previous blog go to that point.
Vicki McKenna's comments today were horrifying. She called for a "revolution", called the crowd the "people's mob" and said

"When someone says bigot, say thank you when someone says nazi laugh,"

actually I think in both cases she said "calls you a" but was trying to get it posted on my FB account so I didn't forget the gist of it...

This was clearly an irresponsible speech that she had every right to give. Shortly thereafter the scuffle ensued. Is there a cause and effect here? I don't know. I only asked the question.

Is the rhetoric around this anti-government movement out of hand? Again, asking the question. What's really important here isn't whether or not I feel it is out of hand, but if the people using this rhetoric are ready to take responsibility for the results of it whatever those results.

Here's some video that basically confirms the portion of my story after came back from getting the sheriffs. It certainly confirms JTP's involvement in some way. It confirms the mood of the crowd (even the guy videotaping is flipping out and justifying the attack on the guy). It also confirms in particular that walking into that group of people (I was near the guy videotapping and he also missed the take down...) and hearing the anger and the horror at the applause when the guy lifted his head and was his face was full of blood would have scared just about anyone rational. That justifies my own horror with the entire incident.

More video apparently exists that could show why the mob was angry and I'll withhold judgement on that until after I see it. I also suspect it will confirm the first half of my story even if the first half of my story may have been the middle of the whole story.

Most importantly, I want to reiterate that I wrote the story as I personally saw it. I was careful to leave out what I didn't see and point out what I didn't know.

I do know that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was able to confirm that there was a fight. Much more will come out around this. I suspect the angry mob will try to justify their behavior in attacking the guy. He was an angry liberal crashing their party after all.

I was terrified by it all. I was appalled at the outcome. I saw the look in the guy's eyes as he realized that the people around him were way outnumbering him, not letting him walk and pushing and surrounding him. This was ugly no matter the final story.

The bottom line is that the guy was pretty spotable with his fuscia backpack. If, as some people are stating, he was out of line, they had one duty and one duty only, to get the police or sheriffs involved. That's what I did. My husband against his better judgement did not try to step in and break it up, but waiting for the authorities to get involved. This is what rational people do. They get professionals only a few feet away, not form an angry mob and attack someone.

I will have more to say on this, but I wanted to make sure I keep my readers up to date on the latest developments. Lots of other bloggers are linking to my original post and I suggest you read their posts on both sides of the story.

Just know that my original report of what I saw is accurate to my perspective as a truly independent and interested observer at the rally. I was not there to cause trouble. I did not and do not know the guy involved in the incident. I was there out of honest curiousity about it all and my opinions on it are my own.


Deekaman said...

I am disappointed that you have already made up your mind. I thought Liberals were open-minded.

I did not witness the incident in question, but I was not only in the crowd, but ranged far and wide amongst them. I saw no violent intent anywhere. There were counter-protestors in the crowd who were engaged and debated, none with anything but the best of intentions. I was personally able to speak not only with a protestor inside the Party, but also an AFL-CIO protestor outside. We had much in common, such as our agreement that government doesn't work. But I digress.

Your statement that there were about 300-500 people there is far from correct. Go to deekaman.blogspot.com to see a picture taken from the rooftop of a nearby aparment. While the quality is not what I would like, it's clear the numbers are in the thousands. And I'm not smart enough to doctor a photo.

Second, you do nothing for the debate by calling us "teabaggers" (a sexual slur, if you will), Nazis and bigots. We are not.

Last, let's compare how the crowds act at these TEA Parties with how they acted at anti-war rallies or other Leftist protests against G-8, "corporate greed"..... There were no smashed windows at Starbucks, no one called for the death of the President and the grounds were actually clean when we left.

We disagree with you and with the government. Not Republican, not Democrat. We want Liberty, not Tyranny. We want to be able to decide for ourselves how to live. We want the same for you.

Peace and Love.



Crawford's Take said...

Apparently you didn't hear Ms. McKinna's speech. I DID NOT call you ANY of those things... Those were HER words. Reread my post. I am very clearly using HER words encouraging you to embrace those terms. Thankfully, you apparently didn't buy into that part of her speech.

Also, the teabagger term was a term your movement decided to call themselves.

Since the 30 people in the crowd were at the back of the crowd, I certainly can agree that not all of the people in the 1000's you claim were there were violent. There well could have been 1000's at one point, but when I got there around 5pm there were only hundreds and we had our choice of 10 parking spots in the north parking lot... apparently the key note speaker was not as exciting or the other speakers could have sent people packing, but there were no where near 1000's of people there when I arrived. All of these points are off topic and you can try to parse my crowd count and pick at words. The facts of what happened remain.

I have NO idea why you think I disagree with the entire anti-government sentiment. What I disagree with is the violent language, the embracing of racism, the call to create a revolution or people's that I heard in McKenna's speech. I could probably find some decent places where we could agree with some of the principles, for example I didn't like the bailout's by Bush or Obama of the banking industry either. I don't like the healthcare plan on the table either (I think single payer which is not even being debated is the smartest way to just fix this once and be done with it).

I think as an outsider I'm watching the conservative movement tap into the base fears, hatred and greed of our society. I find the methods they are using unnecessary, distasteful and against common decency.

I'd like to note here how much I actually appreciate your comment as you are the first of my commentors to actually bring up the policy side of this debate and that's refreshing!

Crawford's Take said...

Made up my mind about what? I've clearly stated what I saw (and didn't see), and left the context up for debate.

Ordinary Jill said...

I disagree with Deekaman's numbers estimate from the photo. The crowd is only densely packed in the area immediately in front of the stage; there is much space between people farther back. Would that crowd fill the Kohl Center? Hardly. A respectable turnout, but I doubt it's over a thousand. Several hundred is probably more accurate.

As far as what you witnessed, it was indeed an unfortunate incident. However, the gaps in what you saw (and in the Youtube video) make it impossible to tell who threw the first punch. It is possible that the man chose to deliberately provoke the crowd and become a martyr in order to discredit everyone there. Although, if that were the case, I suspect the Youtube video would show that (I think it may have been edited).

Your account was full of your assumptions, which is reasonable on an opinion blog, but it is not a journalistic account by any means, and the fact that left-leaning bloggers are linking to your "eye-witness account" only adds to the misunderstandings about the incident. They are choosing to interpret your (admitted) guesses as facts, even when you re-iterated that you did not actually see some of those things.

I am no fan of the Tea Party movement. I would respect them more if they had staged rallies protesting the USA Patriot Act and the creation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. I think it is very telling that so many of them were willing to give carte blanche to George W. Bush. For the record, I would like to see a single-payer health care system in this country, and I never supported the Iraq War (although I support the troops who are over there just trying to do the crappy job they have been handed).

However, progressives discredit themselves when they call the Tea Partiers Nazis or claim that they are only motivated by racism (you have not done this, but others have). Stick to the facts (both the political issues and the behavior of the activists), and the truth shall set you free.

Dad29 said...

the teabagger term was a term your movement decided to call themselves

Do you have a cite for that?

I don't recall any "teabagger-branding" as part of the TEA Party movement.

Deekaman said...

Jill: You are correct that we failed to hold the last administration accountable for out-of-control spending. I, for one had a BIG problem with it, but no where to go but my own blog.

Renee: I did indeed hear Vicki McKenna's speech. I realize that not everyone understands satiric wit, but I did.

Please tell me where the racism is. I'm missing that part.

"Teabaggers" was a term used by the media (specifically, Olbermann, Maddow and their guests) meant as derision. We do not allow words to have power over us any more. So we DO embrace it. It is an honor to be have the likes of those two spew hate at us. It means we are having an impact. If we were not, would it not be best to just ignore us?

The Left and most of the media completely misunderstand us and what we believe. Many on the Right also misunderstand. All politicians do so at peril to their own careers.

Don said...

Independent?... Your kidding right? Your original blog post was shot so full of holes that know you start a new one?

know that my original report of what I saw is accurate to my perspective as a truly independent and interested observe

Don said...

You were the one who brought up the crowd count in the first place, you brought it up, how is it of topic.

but there were no where near 1000's of people there when I arrived. All of these points are off topic and you can try to parse my crowd count and pick at words. The facts of what happened remain.

Don said...

Completely baseless comment...

belief that the man was in danger by a large group of angry people. I don't know why, I just know that he was being followed by an angry mob.

Crawford's Take said...

I understand satiric wit just fine. I just did not find the satire useful dialog or the wit funny in the least...

It was distasteful and for you to defend it as funny tells me all I need to know about you...

Crawford's Take said...

I'm cracking up that now the "tea party movement" finally got the joke on the term "teabagger". No I have seen my share of pictures of women with teabags hanging from their sunglasses... Just because you were slow to catch onto the joke, doesn't mean you can say the joke never happened. LOL! Lighten up Dude!

Crawford's Take said...

Why you are still using the references to tea at all? If you want to distance yourself from the "teabagger" term, why not go with something that doesn't still include the word "tea"? I can't believe how funny you guys are!

Listen you can go through and nit pick at whatever individual words you want to nit pick at to try to discredit me on little insubstantial things like my crowd guesstimate and whether or not I got the Nazi/bigot joke and if I mislabeled your tea party as a teabagger party... the bottom line is that no one can dispute my story in any substantial way. Someone even had the nerve to say I was lying about just driving by as if I have an inside line on when conservatives are gathering and we went down to cause trouble... We did no such thing. We go for a ride every weekend and several times during the week on the lakefront because we LIKE our lakefront... sigh...

If you really were interested in out of control governmental power, you would be marching against a war that takes our national guard out of the country, about the PATRIOT Act and the Military Commissions Act, government torture and special rendition, and the FISA bill that let the government spy on you guys and the monster of big government idiocy that is the Department of Homeland Security.

I'm STILL complaining about those even though I like the guy in charge! But the real issue is that you guys all stood silent when Bush put all of these over reaching governmental intrusions into our lives and NOW that you don't like the guy in charge, suddenly government's too big and intrusive and too expensive.

I've been fighting government intrusion for 8 years!!! I just don't understand how you justify your sudden anger with the government. I'm quite sure you all weren't in Sensenbrenner's office complaining when he wrote the Military Commissions Act, because I WAS there...

It's about time you get called out for your hypocrisy. I am ALWAYS critical about an over-reacting government, but your outrage seems REALLY selective and based on the individual now in control... Not so good when you don't trust him huh? Welcome to my world for the last 8 years.

Support the JUSTICE Act (do you even know what that is?) out of your movement and I may just start to pay attention to what you're saying again...
Explain how I'm wrong.

Crawford's Take said...


The signs were lovely...

John L. Quinlan said...

Dear Renee --

Thanks for your courage in shining a light on the disturbing aspects of Sunday's rally, and for raising questions about a part of the story that the mainstream newsmedia almost missed completely. At a time when angry mobs that actively seek to inhibit democracy are an increasing presence on the political scene, the questions you raise here are more important now than ever.

"I've never been so proud in my lifetime to be part of this angry mob," keynoter Michelle Malkin told the crowd on Saturday, not long before a small, but significant, part of the audience she was addressing became just that, in the worst kind of way.

The fact that a man was chased and attacked was outrageous enough. But there's no justifying those who cheered at the sight of his blood-covered face. Period. And if the power of an angry mob goes unanswered and unchallenged, it damages democracy in Wisconsin and beyond in ways that hurt us all, which is why your witness to these events becomes so important.

"Angry Mob." Was the rhetoric from the stage simply effective use of irony or satire, as some of your respondents have suggested? It sounded to me more like an appeal to "mobacracy," which is defined as "government by mob or a mass of people, with the goal of the intimidation of constitutional, democratically-elected authorities." It's a term closely linked to "demagoguery," which is "a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the prejudices, emotions, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda...."

And it's just plain ignorance when someone cavalierly uses a phrase like "angry mob" without acknowledging the lasting damage to the American way of life done by the legacy of hate wrought by irrational mobs in the recent past. We live in a country where almost 3000 people died at the hands of lynch mobs in the not-so-distant past, mobs with the goal of intimidating, humiliating, and suppressing the opinions of anyone who dared to disagree with them.

Some of your respondents imply that the injured activist somehow had it coming. I don't care what he said, what he was wearing, or what his motivation was for being there. He didn't deserve to be chased and then prevented from leaving the scene, before being beaten by an angry mob.

To people who are justifying what happened, I issue a simple challenge: just state that "no one should be the victim of mob violence as the result of their unpopular speech," and that "might doesn't make right." If you can't echo those simple unassailable values, your voice has little credibility.

I have no doubt that many of those who gathered in Veteran's Park on that day may indeed have been good people, with good intentions. Whatever motivation drew you there, however, that meaning will be lost unless this underlying injustice can be addressed.

Renee, as your colleague and friend, what makes me really angry and disappointed is that a principled and committed community leader like you--someone whose life's work has centered around ensuring other people's First Amendment freedoms, whether you agree with them or not--had to witness the horror of yesterday's events as the mob pursued this man, amidst a climate of fear that caused you to feel endangered yourself. That was painful and real, and wholly unjust and unnecessary.

Despite this, your first thought was for others. You wrote what you wrote, knowing that it would open the floodgates to the kind of personal criticism and verbal attacks we're seeing here.

Thanks for showing the courage of a truthspeaker. Thanks for opening up a dialogue around this incident in a way that moves us closer to the ideal of the free and civil exchange of ideas that is the antidote to the disturbing significance of these events. Now the rest of us must follow your example, by holding high our precious First Amendment freedoms, while speaking out against hate speech that incites violence.

It's simply the right thing to do.

John Quinlan

Call Me Mom said...

Ms. Crawford,
As I said on the other post, you went into the rally with an expectation of what you would see. It's no surprise that you interpreted what you saw as you did.
Ms. McKenna's remarks were intended, not as a joke, but to parallel Jesus' words(although perhaps not intentionally) when he told his disciples that they would be persecuted for his name's sake. She was saying, that if people are calling those in the crowd those names-nazi and bigot and teabagger(which I believe was first publicly used in that manner by Ms. Pelosi as well as referring to those in attendence as nazis)that they are doing their duty as citizens in speaking out for a return to the Constitution. she was encouraging them, in essence, to see such terms as an indicator of effectiveness rather than the insults they are intended to be.

I did not give Mr. Bush carte blanche on many of his policies and actions, but even if I had, it would not justify the wholesale dismantling of the republic upon which Mr. Obama has embarked. Nor does Mr. Bush's spending(which I also opposed) justify the insanity of Mr. Obama's spending proposals.

Most of the accounts I have read as well as the videos I have seen of the incident to which you refer tend to support the view of those who have attempted several times to correct your perception of the incident. Perhaps you have never seen a really ugly crowd to be able to have an objective ability to measure the sentiment of a crowd. I have.
These folks looked to me to be mostly calm and herding the offender, whom many reports including one from the gentleman who was confronted by this fellow, towards the police area after he assaulted a young woman and destroyed her property. The gentleman who was accosted by this lout indicated that, from the smell of his breath, he was drunk as well. I have seen no one in any of the videos hitting or assaulting the man in any way.
That they cheered when the police arrested him is a perfectly normal reaction under such circumstances. One hopes that the troublemaker will leave without harming anyone else, there is a level of unease that he got away with assualting someone coupled with a reluctance to be more assertive for fear that it will be reported in just the biased way you reported it, Ms. Crawford.
When the police arrest him, there is relief, both that someone else is handling it and that the troublemaker will not get away with the assault he committed. This release of tension and the pleasant surprise that the end will be what it should be instead of what was expected or feared is what resulted in the cheering/laughter which so horrified you.

You keep trying to portray the man as an innocent victim of mob violence, although from the videos, he clearly was not. He was not threatened although he threatened others. I have known some police officers personally and they do not pile on to someone that way unless that person has done something to indicate it is necessary to have that level of restraint. It is but one more indicator that the man was belligerent and intent on causing trouble. The crowd did not attack him, they did their best, successfully I might add, to remove him from the crowd.

Dad29 said...

about the PATRIOT Act and the Military Commissions Act, government torture and special rendition, and the FISA bill that let the government spy on you guys and the monster of big government idiocy that is the Department of Homeland Security

Umnnnhhhh...you can look it up; I am NOT pleased with any of the above. Said so on my blog.

BUT: "torture"? Maybe, maybe not. SEER training, given to US SF troops, includes waterboarding.

"Renditions"? I'm not a fan. On the other hand, I'm not responsible for protecting 300 million people. IIRC, Deneen or Dreher published an item (and I re-posted parts) the thrust of which was that there ARE no 'good guys' in wars (that's not the precise language, which was much clearer.)

Having said that, it was GKC who opined that 'soldiers do not hate those who are in front of them; they love those who are behind them.'

There are very hard calls out there, and it is not helpful to be Pollyanna.

TCL said...

From your headline; What is a "Tea Pary"?

Call Me Mom said...

T.E.A. is an acronym for Taxed Enough Already. TEA Parties are gatherings of individuals to protest the egregious amount of spending that this administration and Congress have already approved as well as opposing any proposed additional spending.

There are a number of issues that can be addressed under the umbrella of protesting egregious government spending and you would be likely to see more than one of them represented at such a gathering.