Saturday, June 17, 2006

Ben Masel campaigns at the Farmers’ Market

Activist Ben Masel was collecting signatures for his nominating papers to run against Senator Herb Kohl at the Dane County Farmers’ Market, one place in Madison where they still seem to believe in free speech -- unlike the Willy Street Coop, where they don’t seem so sure. (Wisconsin Dems at their LaCrosse convention apparently needed some convincing, but they came around.)

I was happy to sign. Any man who campaigns for public office wearing a button saying “Impeach Cheney First” has my signature. Besides, although this is not the Lamont-Lieberman race, where Ned Lamont is starting to look as if he has a real chance to strike a blow against what Matt Stoller calls the "Democratic K-Street Culture," it sure doesn’t hurt to give Kohl a friendly little kick from the left.

6/30/06 UPDATE: What is it about the First Amendment that UW-Madison Police don't understand?

Masel was put on the ground, maced and arrested at a public hip hop concert last night on the Memorial Union Terrace, where he was circulating his nomination papers. -- and where other local politicians have done so with no problem. There's an interesting discussion of the event at The Daily Page Forum, starting with Masel's account of the incident.
Asked to show ID, I inquire whether they are there as Agents of the State, or "are you working for a Private Club?" I'm grabbed, maced, put to the ground, and with at least one knee on my back, the rest of the mace emptied into my eyes.

Trip to UW stationhouse, charges of Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, and Resisting/Obstructing an Officer. Released on recognizance, return date July 24.

Coincidentally, Mayor Dave was playing cards with pals at a table 8 feet away. He'll make an interesting witness.
That should be quite a court appearance -- especially if Masel succeeds in dragging Mayor Dave to the witness stand. Masel has quite a track record of coming out on top in false arrest cases, and I'm sure he'll do so again. But you do have to wonder what the hell is going on in downtown Madison -- especially with the selective nature of this "law enforcement" action.

I remember when Michael Moore was speaking at the Union Terrace in front of thousands on a cold, blustery night before the 2004 election. There was a group of wingnuts trying to disrupt his talk. They were standing in the very spot where Masel was arrested, but nobody that I could see called the cops. Somebody dumped a pitcher of beer on the hecklers, which seemed to shut them up, but that was a different matter...

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