Rush Limbaugh says the Wisconsin protesters Are "Long-Haired, Maggot-Infested, Dope-Smoking FM Rock 'N' Roller Types. Seriously.And then he told them all to get off his lawn. Whatever.
Walker entered to thunderous applause, though not from the Democrats, who refused to rise. At least two-thirds of the East audience galley was loudly applauding but they had nothing on the West coast. It was now clear who the men in business attire were. Nearly without exception, the west gallery was all men in black suits and, when the governor said something meaningful, they all rose and applauded, and they did it with verve and volume. I'm not saying these guys were not from Wisconsin, but if you know Wisconsin, you know for a fact that even for most businessmen, black suits are not part of the wardrobe. In general, the only time one will see a large gathering of Wisconsin men in black suits is at a funeral, or, apparently at a Governor Walker budget address.
Reporter Kristin Knutsen found evidence that many of these ringers may have entered through the capitol's access tunnels, noting the presence of the Division of Criminal Investigation—the same officers I saw upstairs outside the Assembly chambers following the address escorting unidentified men.
Meanwhile, rumors have been flying around for more than a day about the presence of tunnels leading east from the Capitol to the Risser Justice Center and the state office building at 1 W. Wilson St. The former is used regularly by Capitol staff, and the concern uttered by protesters addressed whether or not it might be used to provide a discreet and unencumbered access to the speech for Walker supporters to pack the gallery. (This was later denied by a spokesperson for the governor.)
Before the speech, downtown Madison alder Byron Eagon stopped by the P2 level of the parking garage at the Risser building, witnessed dozens of law enforcement officers present, and snapped a photo of a few guarding a tunnel entrance.
Stopping by the Risser building shortly before the speech, I encountered a trio of plainclothes agents with the Division of Criminal Investigation in the Wisconsin Department of Justice, guarding a door to a space they claimed was a storm shelter. Unlike the generally relaxed and personable law enforcement officers on duty during the last two-plus weeks of protests, their attitude was adversarial, with one attempting to seize my Capitol press pass and suggesting I could be a "terrorist," before trying to dismiss the remark as a joke.
More agents were guarding the Doty Street entrance to the building's parking garage, along with several other law enforcement officers in suits. Stationed around the building for hours, these agents were from the Milwaukee bureau. While they are usually tasked with investigating a whole slew of serious crimes, from homicide and arson to drug trafficking and government corruption, as confirmed by one of the officers present, today they spent their time in a role dismissed as "palace guards" by Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney. A Department of Justice spokesperson confirmed that DCI agents were part of the police operations in Madison today.
Remember these guys?
Remember these guys?