Handful of Protesters Ejected from Walker’s Budget Address

At least three of the handful of protesters allowed to watch Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's budget address from the State Capitol's Assembly Gallery Tuesday evening were ejected from the Gallery, escorted out by State Patrols.

"I was one of the 20 people invited in from the general public," said David Wasserman, a Madison Metropolitan School District teacher at Sennett Middle School.

He didn't get to stay for long.

"We looked at the list of things we weren't supposed to do –- we knew we weren't supposed to clap, we knew we weren't supposed to have our cell phones on," Wasserman said of the rules posted in the Assembly Chamber, noting that all the Republicans in the Assembly Chamber were clapping and cheering for Walker's address.

"Then, the woman next to me, who I don't even know, stood up when everyone was clapping, and she booed," he said. She realized she had broken the rules, Wasserman said, and voluntarily left, escorted by an officer.

Shortly thereafter, a sheriff came back to Wasserman's seat and said, "You two [David and his friend Thi] are going to have to be escorted out."

Wasserman explained: "And we said, 'We didn't do anything! What did we do?!' This other woman was screaming. We weren't clapping. We weren't whistling and cheering. We weren't doing anything we weren't supposed to be doing."

According to Wasserman, two State Patrol officers escorted them out around 4:40 p.m., before the end of Walker's address, passing them from sheriff to sheriff on the way out. They kept asking, "Why do you keep escorting us out? What did we do? Why?" Wasserman noted the initial two sheriffs who escorted Wasserman and Thi from the Gallery never responded as to why they were ejected from the address.

The Assembly Chamber is 73 feet by 68 feet by 41 feet high and has seating for 240 people in the Assembly Gallery, to watch legislation in action from above. Of the 240 seats, he noted, there were only about 20 people that were from the general public, and they were a "very, very small minority of non-Republican viewers."

"And they didn't like that. They didn't like that there were 20 people very obviously not clapping with the rest of the Republicans. It didn't look good for them."

The Center for Media and Democracy also checked in with Marcia Colsmith, a Madison resident, service worker and union member Tuesday evening.

"They [State Patrol troopers] watched us like hawks during the whole address and if you even coughed or sneezed they would give you a dirty look … they put us in folding chairs, too, so they could watch us really closely."

At the end of Walker's address, Colsmith added, she and the other protesters declined to applaud, simply standing up and turning around, "like we were turning our backs on the Governor."

She then said the State Patrol officers immediately told the protesters they had to leave and escorted them out.

The act of letting such a limited number of protesters in to watch the governor's budget address "seemed like a farce," Colsmith said, like officials were letting a small quota of protesters in to hear the governor speak for publicity's sake.

"But we didn't even get regular chairs," she exclaimed, "And at the end, they took our shoulders and marched us out."

Wasserman similarly expressed his frustration with being escorted from the address early.

"We had made it the whole time there, I actually stood in the beginning when there was a prayer to open the address, but I stood backwards because I'm Jewish," Wasserman explained, and he did not wish to pray a Christian prayer. "And they [the officers] actually told me to turn around because that was disrespectful. And so I sat down. But I didn't do anything wrong that was written in their rules."


This is outrageous. Maybe David Wasserman was also kicked out because he is a teacher - and a very good one. My daughter had him for math in middle school. It is inspiring that he is taking a stand against the bill. And it is disgusting the way these people are being treated. The tea partiers were breaking the rules - they should have been kicked out, but they were brought in through the same secret tunnel that the governor uses to sneak in and out of the Capitol. Thank you David for being a teacher and for standing up for everyones' rights.

Those against the Wisconsin budget bill have had their voices heard loud and clear inside and outside the Capitol Building and in humongous numbers. The behavior of the limited few protesters that were able to attend the Governor's speech plainly shows immaturity. Big deal...so you had to sit quietly. Perhaps the sheriffs were not going to take any chances of further displays of obnoxious dissent. The actions of protesters during and after the recent Assembly bill vote was rude and childish behavior...temper tantrums. And, it wasn't necessary for Mr. Wasserman, being of the Jewish faith, to use his back as a protest tool against the opening prayer. Where's the tolerance and respect, Mr. Wasserman? If I were a guest at an event that held a religious prayer or ritual, I would sit quietly and observe respectfully. If I couldn't do that, then I have no business attending. Mr. Wasserman was a "fine" example for Wisconsin students to learn how to get negative attention.

Wisconsin Resident, walker may be listening to the chants out side but he is not meeting or talking with anyone who is opposed to his legislation. He has said so he will not negotiate. It was not Mr. Wasserman who turned his back on the prayer. It was Ms. Colsmith.In a country where there is a separation of church and state there should not be a prayer at the beginning of a government function. But that is besides the point. They sat they followed rules and were still escorted out for no apparent reason. If you are OK with that then I assume you are OK with guilty until proven innocent.

Vicki doesn't have good reading comprehension, maybe she needed better teachers. It clearly states that I and the other protesters turned our backs to the governor at the end of the budget speech when everyone else was applauding. The prayer was at the start. The only prayers at the end may have been silent ones by those wishing a large rock would fall on the governor's head. Since the capitol grounds were full of protesters wanting to be in the building (that is when we were illegally locked out) they could have let all interested parties into the Assembly gallery, instead of bussing in Republicans and bringing them in through the underground tunnel so that on the news it would look like most viewers supported the evil budget. If they could applaud, which is against the rules, then why couldn't we simply stand up and turn around? Why did we need to be shown the door? I am guessing the other fellow mentioned is a resident of Madison, a service worker, and a union member, because I am none of those things. Just wanted to set the record straight. Was googling myself and found this article. :-)

Hi. Wisconsin in the United States. The United States has a constitution. The constitution has amendments. The first one has a clause about free speech. As a result the government doesn't get to decide how you express yourself. Why do you hate the First Amendment?

I believe there is something about yelling "fire" in a crowded theater (i.e. there are certain restrictions to free speech, although the latest Supreme Court ruling allowing the Westbrook Baptist Church (?) to spew their hate makes you wonder. I think the authorities just wanted to make sure things didn't get out of control. If they did, then they and Walker would be blamed for that. My take is that most people don't understand or ignore the bottom line facts about what is going on before they start protesting. They just seem to get caught up in the mob mentality. Once the state goes broke and can't pay the teachers and other union employees, then they will start screaming about that. I guess it depend on whose ox is being gored. Final thought: Perhaps the out-of-state protestors are still upset that the Packers whipped their team and won the Super Bowl.:)

so the governor has the state troopers in his pocket. could somebody from Wisconsin talk about how their national guard is run, and where their loyalties lie.

People of Wisconsin unite and start recall petitions along with proceedings against the governor. All the republicans that vote for the signing of his bill, use your powers to recall them all. People need to take action against this.