Wis. Gov. Scott Walker came to Devil’s Lake State Park Saturday morning for a ceremony honoring the centennial of the park, but he found more protesters there than well-wishers.
An hour before Walker spoke, about 80 protesters gathered at the entrance of the park and walked in a procession that was led by two of the organizers, Sue and Tom Holmes, Sue was carrying an American flag and Tom the Wisconsin state flag.
Another organizer, Gail Lamberty, told the group at the outset: “We are here to deliver a message: This is our Wisconsin, and Devil’s Lake State Park is very, very dear to our heart.”
Many of the protesters were worried about Walker’s anti-environmental policies.
“We have a very strong and proud tradition of environmental protection in Wisconsin,” said Tom, citing the legacy of Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson and former state representative Spencer Black. “All this is now in peril.”
“We felt it was important that Walker not have his phony photo-op,” added Sue. “Our state parks are not for sale.” And though Walker hasn’t proposed that yet, Sue said: “I wouldn’t put it past him. Nothing surprises me anymore.”
Sharon Davis, 46, a waitress in Baraboo, held a sign that said: “Scott Walker No Friend of Parks.”
A lot of the protesters also objected to Walker’s all-out assault on workers’ rights and progressive policies across the board.
“I’m here because I love my state, and Walker is bringing it down,” said Marla Edl, 49. She has two part-time jobs. One is with the state. The huge cut in pay that Walker has enacted is going to hurt her “big time,” she said. “I don’t know how I’m going to make it.” Her other part-time job is cleaning a couple of places, she said.
Leighton Tim, 73, from Germantown, was wearing a hat that said “CWA retiree.” He’s a past president of his Communication Workers of America local. “I don’t like what Walker’s doing to public employees and teachers,” he said. “He’s making them the fall guys. They’re not the problem. The problem is greed.”
When the procession arrived at the lake, more protesters joined in. There were about 200 protesters surrounding the 100 people who were seated in front of a podium, with the lake as a backdrop.
But it wasn’t a great backdrop for Walker because there were 12 boats— kayaks, canoes, a couple motorboats, and a large sailboat—in the water with signs that read: “Walker Smells Fishy,” “Walker Jump in the Lake,” “Civil Consternation Board,” “Walker Crimes Against Nature,” “Support State Workers,” and “Recall Walker, ASAP.”
When Walker arrived, the protesters, many holding signs (one said “Walker, You Are Toxic to Wisconsin’s Environment”), erupted in chants of “Shame, Shame, Shame!” And then they chanted: “Wisconsin is not for sale.”
When he was introduced, he got a big round of boos from the protesters and applause from those in the seats.
He spoke for about fifteen minutes, blathering on about his time as a
Boy Scout at Devil’s Lake and then making jokes about how he and his
sons liked to camp out but his wife liked to stay in a hotel so they
bought a camper.
While he was talking, the protesters didn’t interrupt him. But when he was through, he got more shouts of “Shame” and someone from out in the lake yelled, “Take a hike, Walker.”
After the program was finished, Walker shook hands, while protesters just a few feet away held their signs high denouncing him.
As he was hustled into his black suburban, a protester put a pink poster on his windshield that read: “Walker, Your Pink Slip Is Coming.”
And as he sped away, a protester yelled: “The devil has left the lake.”