Wisconsin governor interrupted by protest

November 3, 2011

(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
This table, along with five more behind it, were occupied by protesters.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was in Illinois Thursday giving advice on budget reform. But his speech was interrupted by Chicago protestors.

About 30 protesters chanted sayings like, "Hey hey, ho ho, Scott Walker has got to go" and marched with signs in front of the Union League Club starting around 7:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, about 60 more protesters in suits and ties were sitting obediently at tables during Walker's breakfast talk.

The Republican governor kicked off his speech by joking about sports, noting how Illinois and Wisconsin both hate the Minnesota Vikings. Then one of the protesters jumped up, yelling, "Mic check!" The other protesters repeated him while Walker and the rest of the room took in what was happening.

The group, composed of Occupy Chicago protestors and members of the consortium Stand Up! Chicago, used one another like human megaphones. One protester would shout a line out from their collective speech and the rest would repeat it. When Union League workers and Gov. Walker's handlers approached each standing protester delivering their line, another would then pop up and pick up where the speech left off. That process continued for about five minutes until the protesters were ushered out. 

As the chant started, Walker at first tried to continue his talk over the chanting. When it became clear they would not stop, the emcee stepped in and attempted to shout over them, asking them to leave. The rest of the crowd also began clapping to drown out the sound of the protesters, and gave him a standing ovation once the protesters were escorted out of the room.

Protesters paid the $20 for tickets for each of their seats. Catherine Murrell, the communications coordinator for Stand Up! Chicago said most protesters paid out of pocket, but anyone who could not afford to pay had their ticket paid for by a pool of money collected by Stand Up! Chicago. 

No arrests were made.

Walker continued his talk after protesters cleared out, touting Wisconsin's reforms and slamming Illinois Democrats for the state's budget problems.  

Walker mentioned the possibility of getting recalled as governor and said he welcomes the challenge. He also said he could use Illinois government officials' handling of the state's budget crisis as a case study for what not to do.

"Illinois raised taxes earlier this year, rather substantially on both employers and individuals, and instead they didn't solve the budget crisis, Walker said. "They didn't solve their long-term structural crisis."

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he does not wish to follow Walker's lead. Quinn has frequently criticized the Wisconsin governor for being unfair to unions.