Peaceful! Peaceful!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 10 2011 8:04 AM

Peaceful! Peaceful!

I'm told to expect more video of pro-union protesters in Wisconsin acting in a way that puts them right at the edge of violence. We'll see. This is the most I've seen so far, a video shot by Phil Ejercito that captures young protesters pushing their way into the Capitol, past police officers.

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You can see several people lowering their centers of gravity and pushing past police officers who are trying to keep them out, followed by the police officers relaxing and letting protesters in, slowly, as protesters yell "Peaceful!" From the officers' standpoint, this looks horrifying -- right outside the doors, struggling to get in, are hundreds of people who by the end of the evening will multiply to thousands of people. What we can't quite see are their badges. Why does that matter? Madison and Dane County police have sided with the protesters, occasionally marching through the Capitol in solidarity after their shifts. Officers from other parts of the state, and state troopers, have been more cautious in their interactions with protesters. For most of the standoff, police haven't encountered much resistance from protesters -- they left the Capitol the night they were asked to, for example. So both sides in this video are engaging in something new. They get out if it without real violence.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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