Saturday, February 26th, 2011

There were about a million people on cap square this afternoon, even while the snow and the temperature were both falling. If it wasn’t literally a million, it looked like a million. I’ve never seen a million people in one place, so I’m not sure what that looks like, but what I saw was that the streets around the capitol building were filled curb-to-curb with a steady stream of people marching around and around, and more people filling the steps up to the capitol, and more on the terrace surrounding the capitol. It was a lot of people.

I dressed for thirty degrees, the temperature on the thermometer when we left the house at around ten o’clock this morning to go have breakfast at the farmer’s market. We did our shopping, then stashed the goods in the trunk of our car before walking down State Street to see if we could catch the end of the rally that was supposed to start on the Library Mall at eleven. No, we couldn’t. The rally had already broken up and about a thousand, maybe fifteen hundred protesters were marching up State Street toward the capitol, led by our U.S. Representative, Tammy Baldwin.

So we joined the march. At this point I could still feel the ends of my fingers and toes.

When we got to cap square the rally on the State Street steps hadn’t begun yet, so we stayed with the marchers as they turned up Carroll Street. We kept on marching around a second time, and we did parts of a third lap around, taking two detours up to the terrace to see if we could get inside and warm up a bit, but the volunteer marshalls were herding people into one line toward the Hamilton Street north entrance and the line stretched halfway around the building. If I stood in that for any length of time I knew I’d turn into a meat popsicle, so when My Darling B asked me what I wanted to do I voted to keep moving, and that’s how we ended up marching partway around a third time.

By one o’clock in the afternoon there were tens of thousands marching around the square, and I don’t know how many more inside. This was the point where I could no longer feel the ends of my fingers or toes, because it was a lot colder than thirty degrees out there. The dashboard thermometer on our car said nineteen when we finally went back to the parking lot.

The most interesting protest sign I saw was in the hands of one of a group of three Walker supporters that read, “Work helps, protesting doesn’t.” And the way he chose to make that point? By protesting. That’s the kind of logical loop that Captain Kirk and Mister Spock used on the evil killer computer to make it self-destruct.

March on the capitol | 3:51 pm CDT
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