Hundreds of off-duty police officers join protests at Wisconsin Capitol
Dan Benson|Greenbay Press Gazette
MADISON — Hundreds of off-duty police officers and deputies joined protests today against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill that would strip most collective bargaining powers from about 170,000 public employees.
Police, state troopers and firefighters are exempt from Walker’s proposal, but even as some marched on the downtown Capitol Square, hundreds of other officers from around the state provided security.
Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Cpl. Matt Spence and Deputy Todd Traas stood guard on the Capitol’s northwest side directing pedestrians toward entrances to the building.
“We left at 3 a.m. on Thursday and have been (in Madison) ever since,” Traas said. Five Sheboygan County deputies were on duty Saturday.
They came equipped with riot gear, including helmets and batons, they said, but didn’t expect trouble.
“It’s been great,” Spence said.
Richard Daley, 62, of Green Bay, who retired from the Madison Police Department after 20 years on the force, came back to Madison on Saturday “supporting the fact that we all see this as union busting and wage suppression. This is a long-term, downward spiral of wages for working families.”
Wausau police Detective Cord Buckner, 42, stoically stood in the cold with an American flag wrapped around his face and holding a “Cops for Labor” sign as thousands of demonstrators marched around the Capitol.
“Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you!’ Unreal.”