MADISON – The energy from Wisconsinites protesting Governor Scott Walker's attack on working people in early spring may have inspired Occupy Wall Street, and on Friday, Occupy Wall Street inspired demonstrations in Wisconsin. Around 150 people gathered in Madison's Reynolds Park Friday night for the first in a series of Occupy Madison demonstrations.
"I think its great that people are coming together in solidarity to support one another and support this cause," said Samuel Swegleitner, one of the many young faces at the event. Swegleitner cited the recent attack on collective bargaining rights and growing income inequality as motivation to join the Occupy Madison movement.
"We need to understand, we are all in this together," he said. "We are in support of [Occupy Wall Street] but we definitely want to voice our own opinion too."
The Occupy Madison event took place at a park three quarters of a mile from the state capitol, the site of the Spring protests that attracted nearly 180,000 people. The park was apparently selected because it would allow people to stay overnight. Logistics were discussed at the Friday evening "general assembly," with participants circling a single microphone. Demonstrators raised concerns about sleeping in the park without tents, and whether residents in the area would complain about passing cars honking their horns in support of the gathering.
Some tried to derail the event before it began. In the leadup to the protest, a fake "Occupy Madison" Facebook page sprung up that looked nearly identical to the official page. It announced that the event was cancelled and would be rescheduled for the following week. Facebook did not take down the offending page until hours before the protest was scheduled to begin. On the official Occupy Madison page, administrators called it a "specifically targeted misinformation campaign to shut down the event."