Wisconsin Protester Sues Building Worker For Popping Her Balloon
Sing-alongs don't usually provoke violent outbursts. Unless, that is, they take place in the Capitol building of America's most embattled state. The daily noontime Solidarity Sing Along in Madison, Wisc., just entered its 23rd week, bringing together the most tenacious of the state's labor advocates, and some of their more overzealous opponents.
In June, one protester suffered a broken tooth when he was punched in the face by a Tea Party member. A month later, Ronald J. Blair, an assistant director in the Division of State Facilities, allegedly pulled out a knife and started stabbing Leslie A. Peterson's heart-shaped balloon so violently that he started to bleed.
The heart-shaped balloon has become something of a symbol among the anti-Gov. Scott Walker crowd. After the massive demonstrations faded back in February, one red, heart of helium remained nestled in a ridge of the Capitol's dome -- a reminder of a fight unfinished. The balloon even has its own "Capitol Balloon" Facebook page and "The Heart Balloon" Twitter account.
When gravity recently triumphed over the polyester party decoration, the Wisconsin History Society quickly moved in and collected it for its archives.
After Blair burst Peterson's balloon, she followed him down a stairway, demanding to see identification and saying she would file a report with the police. Blair then allegedly grabbed her by the wrists and shoved her against a door, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Peterson may enjoy inflatable hearts and group melody-making, but she's a fighter too. She's now suing the building worker for violating her free speech and due-process rights, as well as subjecting her to unreasonable search and seizure. She's seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
This isn't even the most recent controversy to strike the Solidarity Sing Along. Last week, workers from The Bruce Company were installing a new sprinkler system toward the end of the hourlong protest. The singers thought the noisy equipment was an attempt to silence them, and so began chanting "Boycott Bruce! Boycott Bruce!"
Nothing broken or bleeding has been reported.
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