Wisconsin Wave

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A few thousand protesters began making laps around the state Capitol late Tuesday morning and yelling "Recall Walker" in the rotunda, turning the Capitol Square once again into a hub of activism, emotional appeals and political theater.

Although the crowd size so far is nowhere near the tens of thousands who turned out in February and March, several protesters said they expected the numbers to grow as the day unfolds. A rally is set for 5:30 p.m.

"The teachers are off work, and the kids are out of school. If they aren't going to show up today, then when?" asked Trent Hoffman of Madison, a vendor who has been selling "Union Thug" T-shirts to protesters since February.

Labor leaders encouraged supporters to show up Tuesday, when the Assembly is scheduled to take up Republican Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget proposal for the next two fiscal years.

Adding to protester ire: The possibility that legislators may re-vote on Walker's plan to severely limit collective bargaining rights for most unionized public sector workers. That legislation is tied up in court because of a possible violation of the state's open meeting law.

Republican leaders have said they plan to bypass the legal quagmire with a do-over vote unless the state Supreme Court rules by Tuesday afternoon.

Tracy Burandt and Patty Werner, both teachers at Verona High School, were among the first protesters to show up Tuesday.

"I was pretty disillusioned after the winter protests because our voices were disregarded," Burandt said. "It was easy for Republicans to say, 'These are people from out of state.' Well, we weren't. We were here then, and we're here now."

On a lighter note, Werner said she figures she's logged more than 150 laps around the Capitol since February. She offered a personal invitation to Tonette Walker to join her. The first lady is making physical fitness one of her issues.

"It's a good way to double up on my exercise and political muscle," Werner said.

Joanne Juhnke of Madison pushed her daughter in a stroller and carried a "Budgets Are Moral Documents" sign. She said her family would be harmed by proposed cuts to state funding for the long-term care of people with disabilities.

"We keep hoping folks who have acted as moderate Republicans in the past will listen to their consciences," she said.

As with past protests, Tuesday's brought out people's creativity.

Stacy Farasha Rhoads, a belly dance instructor from Wauwatosa, was among several protesters handing out strips of pink fabric for people to wear as head or arm bands. The pink symbolized opposition to proposed Planned Parenthood cuts, solidarity with women's rights and the hope that Walker soon would be turned out of office.

"We are walking pink slips," Rhoads said.

Rebecca Dermody and Noel Schutta, both 22 and native Madisonians, brought a bunch of hula hoops so that people could "Hoop For Justice." Another group performed a jump rope rap against the governor.

Ellen Jessen, a teacher at Madison East High School, and her husband wore burlap sacks to symbolize "where we're headed in Wisconsin," she said.

Some used hyperbole to make their point. Among the fresh chalk drawings on the sidewalks at the Capitol: "Closed to democracy" and "Everyone over 8 years old please report to the death camps."

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