Wisconsin Wave

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A participant in the daily, non-violent Solidarity Sing Along at the state Capitol suffered a broken tooth when he was punched in the face by one of two men who were draping a "Don't Tread on Me" flag over the heads of singers, the leader of the sing-along said.

State Department of Administration spokeswoman Carla Vigue said the singer who was punched, Michael J. Dickman of Madison, saw the two men draping the flag over others and came over and grabbed it. Dickman was cited by Capitol Police for disorderly conduct, she said.

Henry C. Rahr of Green Bay was arrested on a tentative charge of battery, and another man holding the flag, Eugene C. German, of Shorewood, Minn., also was cited for disorderly conduct, Vigue said.

Rahr was released from the Dane County Jail after posting $650 on the tentative battery and disorderly conduct charges, according to jail records.

R. Chris Reeder, who leads the sing-along from noon to 1 p.m. weekdays, said singers were shaken by what he called aggressive and provocative behavior by people who were at the Capitol on the day the Assembly passed a bill allowing the carrying of concealed weapons.

Among them, Reeder said, was former Republican state Sen. Dave Zien of Eau Claire, who was yelling and running over singers' belongings in the wheelchair he now uses following a motorcycle accident.

"He was definitely being very, very aggressive," Reeder said. 

Lisa Wells, who recorded video of Zien, said he was yelling, "Walker for president."

Zien received a standing ovation from Republican Assembly members when introduced as a former legislator prior to the vote on the conceal carry bill.

Efforts to reach Zien for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Reeder and other singers, who began presenting their vocal vigil in the Capitol rotunda in February, decried the violence that came into their circle for the first time since the start of the long-running protests against Gov. Scott Walker's budget and controversial law stripping restricting collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

The group's motto is "We are a gentle, loving people, and we are singing, singing for our lives," Karen Vieth said in an email describing the battery incident.

"It is disheartening to live in a state where someone can no longer sing or voice their opinion without being singled out and assaulted," Vieth wrote. "Today's event is further evidence that Wisconsin is being ripped apart at the seam."

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