Kenosha labor rallies in Civic Center Park
A crowd of more than 1,000 people gathered near the Kenosha Municipal Building in preparation for a march and rally at Civic Center Park on Wednesday. The march began a half hour late, and despite cool temperatures, rain and wind, participants marched and chanted, getting responses from passers-by on foot and in cars.
Participants were challenged before and during the march by a truck carrying a posterboard urging people to sign a petition to recall Sen. Bob Wirch. The marchers responded by calling for Gov. Scott Walker’s recall instead. Some marchers handed out flyers calling for a boycott of products they claimed were being used by the Koch brothers to run “anti-democratic ads”
At the rally itself, the crowd was encouraged with speakers, such as Joe Kiriaki of the Kenosha Educators Association, Peni Keeling of the local United Auto Workers, Jo Anne Taube of the Kenosha School Board, Steve Lampada, of the Kenosha Professional Police Association and Jeff Weidner of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 414. The crowd also heard from members of other public and private unions and associations, some in person and others by mail. Some Kenosha City and County officials spoke, including Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman. Sen. Wirch’s wife made a brief appearance as well.
Political commentator for The Nation, John Nichols, addressed the crowd at length and urged them to stay strong, saying that, despite everything, he believed that the proposed bill would be defeated. Many other speakers echoed the same sentiments, despite word that came at 6 p.m., during the rally itself, that Republican state senators in Madison were pulling portions of the bill apart and voting on them separately, specifically the collective bargaining portion of the bill.
Local firefighters provided the crowd with free chili and local police provided free donuts. The crowd was urged to attend future rallies, not only in Madison, but in Racine and Kenosha as well.