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Solidarity Sing-Along celebrating seven years of protesting Scott Walker

Solidarity Sing-Along regulars, from left, David Ketteler, John Bell, Susan Cee Cee Cohen and Ali Catten. The singers protested Thursday on the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard side of the Capitol, while others sang on the State Street side.

SAMARA KALK DERBY, STATE JOURNAL

The dedicated singing activists who meet every weekday at noon at the Capitol to protest the policies of Gov. Scott Walker will celebrate seven years of solidarity on Sunday.

On a good-weather Friday, 50 people might show up to sing outdoors at the Capitol near State Street, but during the winter doldrums it’s sometimes only a handful inside the rotunda. But at least a couple of stalwarts show up each weekday to keep the Solidarity Sing-Along going.

When there are events going on inside the Capitol, sometimes the protesters are outside in winter, too, which was the case on Thursday, day 1,820 since the protest started on March 11, 2011.

“We’re not going away!” shouted Will Gruber, 53, while singing a song of the same name rewritten by Mary Ray Worley, of Madison, to the tune of “I’ll Fly Away.”

The chorus is: “We’re not going away, oh Scotty!/ We’re not going away! (at the noon hour)/ Until that day when justice holds sway/We’re not going away!”

The singers will be marking the anniversary with a party from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Harmony Bar. Entertainment will be provided by the Raging Grannies, the Learning Curve and Forward Marching Band with the others singing along.

Kathy Liska expects about 50 of her fellow singers to attend. But she stresses that the singers are a “non-group” with no member list. “We do not agree to support a candidate for a particular office,” she said.

Instead, the singers are motivated by the policies of Wisconsin’s Republican leaders who “are consistent in destroying our Wisconsin,” she said.

The sing-along started amid the massive protests at the Capitol against the governor’s controversial legislation now known as Act 10, which mostly ended collective bargaining for almost all public employees.

From July to September 2013, Capitol Police made almost daily arrests and issued more than 350 citations — most since dismissed — to those participating in the Solidarity Sing-Along.

In 2013, Bill Dunn, a sing-along regular, sought recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records for staging the world’s longest-running protest but was denied.

“Unfortunately we cannot accept your proposal due to the sensitive nature of the activity and the inherent difficulty in defining what constitutes a ‘protest,’ ” the organization wrote in its denial.

Matthew Kearney, a postdoctoral fellow who completed his dissertation at UW-Madison last year on the Wisconsin Uprising of 2011, called the response from Guinness interesting.

He was puzzled that Guinness called the activity “sensitive,” since the Capitol building is intended for public use.

“People are supposed to assemble there, and singing in public is legal. There’s a reason that so many charges against participants were dismissed,” said Kearney, who has participated in the sing-along over the years, but was never ticketed.

Guinness had a point, however, when it called “protest” hard to define, he said.

“They do break every day and come back the next day, unlike the Capitol occupation in February and March of 2011, which was continuous around the clock,” Kearney said.

Still, Kearney said the sing-along isn’t the longest-running protest of any kind. Concepcion Picciotto held a one-woman vigil against nuclear weapons in Lafayette Square near the White House for 34 years before her death in 2016.

For singer Susan Cee Cee Cohen, a retired teacher, the motivation is “the cascade of bad legislation that keeps coming out of our government.”

Cohen was one of six members who showed up Thursday outside under an alcove of the Capitol on its Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Street side to sing. A handful of others protested near the State Street side.

“The story isn’t that there were 200,000 people here seven years ago,” Cohen said. “The story is that we’re here seven years later.”

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(16) comments

mocha1

Buena, sounds like you are civic minded. Real issue is when others will use the government to take your money and force you to support their agenda. Actually I am glad to not live in LaCrosse. Not because of Walkers policies but for all the whiners in LaCrosse complaining about his policies

Rick Czeczok

Get over it already, move on. Living in the past sours the soul. Go out and start enjoying life before you can't because "you" left it go by.

Dave from Wisc

I thought of that today. I enjoy life much more when I don't obsess over politics. There aren't 15 bumper stickers on my car. I would never think "geesh, I better get out there with my sign ridiculing some elected person and tell the world how much I hate that person".

Buena Vista

I make a lot of money. But I certainly do not attribute that to Walker being in office. I think the guy is an embarrassment to the point that I don't boast the fact that I live in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I believe in spreading the wealth, and I do just that with my income. Those of us who make the extra money should feel inclined to give it to those who are less fortunate.

Randy69

I guess we know which way the trib leans...One pic of those poor, cold, misled, out of step, uninformed, out of work people...and a dozen from 2011. Walker will be Gov until he doesn't want to be. Liberals just aren't quick enough to understand why. Please be careful of frostbite out there folks...all 50 of ya.

Melowese Richardson

Not an ounce of common sense between the four of them, but I'll give 'em credit for their persistence and staying power.

Dave from Wisc

How come all the Walker haters are white? Don't they allow minorities into their little group? And do they realize that Walker may not be Governor today if it wasn't for them? Do they not realize how f'd up they look to everyone outside of Madison?

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

How hillarious, they are acting be Kramer from Seinfeld - when he went on strike and ten plus years later they hired him back at the amount he bargained for. Eventually Walker will move on to another position and the useful idiots will claim victory. LOL!

[lol]

mocha1

Typical liberal democrats. You know these are democrats because the republicans would be working at a job supporting our society.

Frangel45

And you are probably a christian conservative that doesn't want to improve our world for everyone and doesn't abide by the bible in any way. When it is YOUR 'beef' you have all the rights in the world but anyone else - MEH!!

Goldenyrs

You're a fool and don't even know it. But others do.

union conservative

So true!

Dave from Wisc

I work 2 jobs. Don't have time to go and spew hate everyday for 7 years like these lefties do. Actually it sounds like they have pretty soft lives. Not sure what their complaint is.

Cassandra2

Imagine a world where you didn't have to work two jobs to make ends meet!

Dave from Wisc

Two reasons are student loans from college (and no, college shouldn't be free.....it should cost less to go there) and Obamacare. I was purchasing my own insurance and Obamacare forced me to purchase an expensive cadillac plan. Also had a job get outsourced to India while Obama was president.

PhysicsIsFun

They are retired. They have passion for a cause. If you have a problem with that move to another country. Say Russia, there they would be in prison for protesting. This is what freedom looks like.

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