* About 90 matters, mostly death threats against state officials, were referred to the Division of Criminal Investigation of the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office. About a dozen remain open cases. About 30 of the 90 threats were directed at Democrats. About the same number were directed at Republicans.
Some of the most violent-sounding threats were directed at Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whose budget repair bill provisions limiting collective bargaining for state employees and teachers to wages and requiring employee contributions to health care and pension benefits provoked union protests. Some threats out-of-state were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
* The cost of increased police security at the State Capitol – called out by state officials due to the death threats and the general uproar there – will top $7.8 million for the first month, prior to March 14. This doesn’t include overtime or security during the two months since then.
* Mike Nichols of the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute has written seriously about the significance of the Wisconsin spending deficit, including its impact on young people if not eliminated promptly. But after reading through hundreds of police reports from the protests in Madison, he wrote recently about the more – ah – mellow side of the protests:
They say Wisconsin hasn’t seen the sort of protests we had in Madison recently since at least the 1960s. Turns out some folks thought it actually was the 1960s.
The state just responded to my request to see copies of hundreds of state Capitol Police reports from February and March during the height of the protests. We already know all about the serious reasons people were blowing off steam.
Turns out, though, that wasn’t just steam.
Two “dudes” pitched a tent right about the state Senate chambers, he learned. There was so much smoke coming from cracks in the tent, one police officer thought the tent was on fire:
Nope. It was just two dudes lying on a sleeping bag in their underwear, a “roach,” rolling papers, a bag of what looked like pot, a glass “bong” and enough smoke to make Cheech and Chong jealous. Both dudes were issued citations and one — a juvenile — was turned over to his mom. I couldn’t reach either one, so it’s not clear if they were protesting against the Republicans, the Democrats or just the lack of Doritos in the cafeteria.
Alcohol was also in generous supply, Nichols noted. Two protesters denied bringing any booze, complaining they weren’t responsible because they got it from a man they didn’t know “wearing a fedora.” Nichols continued:
Yes, I know there were a lot of serious people at the Capitol as well. And not everyone appreciated the surreal circus atmosphere. One woman, for instance, called the police to say it wasn’t right that taxpayers had to foot the bill for, among other things, the protesters’ toilet paper.
Personally, speaking as a taxpayer myself, I think that was probably worth it.