MacIver News Service | September 18, 2011
[Madison, Wisc…] Thousands of liberal political activists, gathered here Saturday for an annual conference, cheered and laughed as a speaker recounted the recent assault of a GOP lawmaker.
The crowd attending the Fighting Bob Fest also rejoiced at the suggestion that protesters, instead of dumping beer over the heads of Republicans, should urinate on them.
“This is Wisconsin, this is the place where you had some guy pour a beer on the head of a Republican State Senator?” said Fest speaker Greg Palast as the crowd erupted with cheers. “No, no, no, that’s all wrong. You can’t do that. That’s just wrong. I’m from New York. If you’re going to pour beer on a Republican, you have to drink it first.”
In audio of Palast's speech posted online, the crowd can then be heard breaking out in loud and sustained cheers and laughter.
Madison Police on Friday cited Miles Kristan, commonly referred to as ‘Pink Dress Guy’ with disorderly conduct for an incident that occurred Wednesday evening. According to police reports, Kristan dumped a beer over State Representative Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and two of his colleagues GOP Reps Scott Suder (Abbotsford) and John Nygren (Marinette) at the Inn on the Park hotel bar and restaurant.
The incident has brought to a head concerns by conservatives in Madison that law enforcement there have not taken threats to public safety seriously. Many on the Left, however, have openly mocked the incident as humorous and minimal, although most of this has come in the form of facebook and twitter postings and none in such a public fashion as Palast, an author and freelance journalist, brazenly did on Saturday.
Hear the clip, which was posted on the liberal Democurmudgeon
Fighting Bob Fest is an annual gathering featuring progressive speakers, networking opportunities, and folk-style entertainment, according to organizers. Named after Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the event attracts thousands and had previously been held at the Sauk County fairgrounds but was moved to the Dane County Coliseum this year.
The line up of speakers included Democratic Congresswoman and US Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin of Madison, Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, John Nichols of the Capital Times and The Nation Magazine, former Congressman David Obey, US Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Matt Rothchild of the Progressive magazine. According to press accounts attendees included Vos’ colleague State Representative Mark Pocan.
Ironically, earlier this year Pocan joined Vos in a call for more civility in Madison.
Pocan has not issued a statement regarding the assault on Vos, nor Palast’s comments that protesters should instead urinate on their political foes. As of press time neither has any of the speakers mentioned above.
The inciting comments and crowd reaction come one day after State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) said he believed Madison law enforcement leaders are partially to blame for the escalation of disorderly and dangerous conduct by protesters in the Capitol city.
Nass believes that Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne have been more interested in cooperating with protesters than enforcing the law.
"The problem is not with rank-and-file police officers. They have had enough, as well. Frankly, the problem rests squarely with the top law enforcement leaders that have let their partisan views interfere with the conduct of their offices," Nass said.
Indeed, the beer incident of Wednesday night was not a spontaneous occurrence.
The MacIver News Service discovered a video, posted online, of Kristan and another protester harassing Representatives Vos and Suder just last week. In the video, which is apparently shot by Kristan and can be seen here, the representatives leave the Capitol and head over to check into the Inn on the Park. This video corroborates allegations that these two individuals have repeatedly harassed Vos, Suder and others.
“I am somebody and you will listen to me,” the agitator screams at one point in the six-and-a-half-minute video. Earlier, he warns that he was giving Vos “five business days to respond.”
The beer was dumped on Vos and the others five days after the video was posted.
Many conservatives share Nass’ concern that Madison authorities, while not mocking the incident as publicly as Palast, appear to be supportive of Kristan’s antics. Nass warns this casual attitude toward unrest could reach a boiling point.
In this exclusive video interview with the MacIver News Service, Nass said, “[I]f Madison law enforcement authorities don't begin to crack down on the repeated and escalating harassment of lawmakers and staff "somebody is seriously going to get hurt...or killed."