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    Wisconsin Police Union Members Threaten Insurrection

    Wisconsin Police Union Members Threaten Insurrection

    There’s a reason this blog is called Legal Insurrection.  An insurrection by definition is illegal, but that is exactly what some police union members in Wisconsin have threatened in support of fellow public sector unions.

    The video below show a policeman (presumably off-duty but wearing what looks like a police-issue sweater with insignia) who addressed the crowd of protesters inside the Wisconsin Capitol building on February 24, and threatened disobedience to state government. 

    Here is the transcription by a supporter of the police protest of the key passage:

    “[…] This is not a budget issue! This is a CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE! […] Mr. Walker! […] We know pretty well now who you work for! [applause] Let me tell you who WE work for! [points to self and police emblem] We work for all of these people! [applause] We are not here, Mr. Walker, to do your bidding! We are here to do their bidding! […] Mr. Walker, this not your House! This is all of our House! [camera pans 360°]”

    It gets worse. 

    Although there is no video of it, according to a protester from inside the Capitol, the police union members more generally threatened to disobey any future orders to clear protesters from the building, currently expected to take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 27:

    From inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, RAN ally Ryan Harvey reports:

    “Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”

    Ryan reported on his Facebook page earlier today [2-25-2011]:

    “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.

    Here are the protester’s tweets (here and here) at the time of the police union announcement:

    To the extent the policeman in the video above, while off duty, wished to participate in the political process, that was fine. But the policeman went much further, and suggested to the protesters that he would disobey the Governor.  The announcement by the police union members that they would refuse an order from the legislature to evict the protesters from the building also went far beyond mere political speech.

    It’s unclear to me what the lines of command are in Wisconsin, and whether the departments in which these policemen work ultimately are under the control of the Governor and/or legislature.  Clearly, the Governor does control the National Guard.  Regardless, the police union members involved have actively advocated and offered to participate in insurrection against the legal authority in Wisconsin. 

    More than anything, this shows the dangers of public sector unions.  Those who work for the state occupy a different position than those who work in the private sector because they carry the weight of state authority.  When those state workers are in law enforcement, they carry special obligations not to use their positions for political purposes.

    When an off-duty policeman wearing police insignia takes a megaphone and announces that he and his fellow police union members will disobey orders, that policeman — at a minimum — has dishonored his pledge to uphold the law.

    It appears that by the end of today we will know whether the police union members’ talk of insurrection was bluster (which I suspect is the case), or if they really will risk their careers by disobeying lawful orders from legitimate and duly elected state authority.

    Update: The Daily Mail identifies the insignia worn by the policeman in the video as a Madison Police Department badge:

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    You Said:
    Walker’s fight is motivated by three things:
    1) A contrived budget crisis that resulted from a tax cut;

    PolitiFact says:

    Wow, Laurie. You have seriously drunk deep of the liberal Kool-Aid. Public sector unions are disastrous to state budgets. That's why they were illegal until 1961. And what in God's name does gas fracking have to do with this? (Oh, you probably watched the Oscars last night. Right). Look, I understand you people are losing really, really badly. Unions, which have been steadily losing membership for decades except in the public sector where they are propped up by their captive Democrat pols, have shown their true violent colors in this Wisconsin fracas. But, seriously, get a grip on reality. It's not always a conspiracy theory involving the Koch brothers (who you just learned about). I understand that as a lazy Democrat (I know, redundant) you would prefer to live on the dole, like these public sector union thugs. But, sorry, the producers are going to let you do that. Remember, elections have consequences. You lost. We won. Time to take your medicine and act like an adult. Now, I think it's best you get on back to DKos before your feelings get hurt, missy. You're welcome.

    Your post is rude, sexist, and very presumptuous. I'd say this was a function of your being a Republican, but I know Republicans with better manners. It's you.

    This post is not about cops, but you didn’t seem to have trouble with the police work for the community.

    Back to your confusion. My point was that 'free market’ solutions are ideology, and they don’t even approximate efficiency without open, transparent bidding. No bid contracts (it's in the bill) will lead to waste at best and more likely abuse of power. There just isn't any systemic check against this. Likewise, unregulated industries that engage natural resources (Fracking's exemption from the SDWA) can be counted on to plunder critical resources (WATER) if doing so will increase the bottom line. That’s the ‘free market’ model. ) Enter the public sector.

    Okay, you say, but no unions. And Walker clearly agrees with you. But here's another point of view from a citizen who works in the private sector, has had a small business, and paid lots of taxes:
    We need the unions to protect older workers (an issue in the private sector), to keep some stability where political winds change, and most of all to protect OUR infrastructure from speedy fire-sale sell offs to corporate cronies by ambitious governors.(Organized resistance takes time if there isn’t a union– as the Bros. Koch know—else why issue a statement that they had no interest in the WI utilities?)

    One other thing about public employees: They don’t have the protections common to private sector corporate employees. There aren’t the elaborate HR processes to protect the organization and so the employee from nonsense somewhere in the ranks, there’s just the union. Teachers would be left with principals who report to superintendents pressed by fleeting political pressure, and neither of them is in the classroom. Teachers being demoralized further isn’t in the interest of the kids. (As teaching kids to disrespect the people they spend their days with is not in their interest.)

    Finally, regarding you’re being a "producer" propping up those lazy Dems: What do you "produce"? Steel? Cars? Maybe… TVs? Your rhetoric needs an update.

    Well, this was fun. And thanks.


    Actually, because of civil service laws, federal, state and local, public employees have all sorts of protections not available to private sector workers. There are hearings and findings and administrative procedures that must be followed while in the private sector most employees are "at will" and can be fired without cause and no followup hearings and procedures.

    Also, there are structural differences between public and private sector employment.

    In the private sector the adversaries are labor and management, in the public sector labor faces off with taxpayers. In the private sector, organized labor balances the greed of labor with the greed of the stockholders. Do public employees have the same concern about working for greedy stakeholders?

    In the private sector, labor negotiates, ultimately, with the people who own the business. While in the public sector, theoretically management (i.e. politicians and appointed city managers) represents the interests of the public, the reality is that they are bought and paid for by the public employee unions.

    You express fears that giving school principals the power to hire and fire would result in poorer educational results. Actually, before teachers' unions took control of public education, American schools excelled.

    Your anti-democratic beliefs are seen in your dismissal of "fleeting political pressure". The superintendent's job is to do the bidding of the school board, which does the bidding of the voters. What you call "fleeting political pressure" is actually how regular Americans use the democratic process to control local schools.

    It seems to me that the Democratic Party's name is becoming increasingly ironic, since they really don't like to cooperate when they lose elections. Of course come to think of it, plenty of totalitarian left-wing regimes have called themselves the "Democratic Republic" of this or that, without actually being democracies or republics.

    Oh, and just to tweak your feminist nose, before the feminists convinced women that they had to go to law school, society benefited from some of our brightest women becoming teachers. Of course that was when teachers had degrees in history, science and math, not education.

    Since the private sector unions have shrunk in size and power, it's understandable that they would make common political cause with SEIU and AFSCME, but it's deliberately disingenuous to say that this debate is about unions.

    It's not about traditional private sector unions, it's about public employee unions. They've been overpaid and overcompensated for years and their pensions are ruinous. They engage in political corruption as a matter of practice and now we are seeing that they think they can dictate policy to the voters.

    Since you brought it up, Laurie, how about telling us what you currently do for a living and what kind of small business did you operate?

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