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Working people confront congressperson in Wisconsin

Published Sep 17, 2011 9:55 AM
WW photo: Bryan G. Pfeifer

Dozens of poor and working people from Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine and other cities in Wisconsin came out to protest U.S. Congressperson Paul Ryan on Sept. 6 in Greenfield, a suburb of Milwaukee. For weeks Ryan has been ignoring his constituents who have been attempting to see him at his offices in Wisconsin. Poor and working people in his district and elsewhere are demanding he use his power in Congress to alleviate the jobs crisis and not dismantle Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Unemployment is officially 9.1 percent in Wisconsin and much higher in cities such as Racine and Kenosha, where there have been numerous union manufacturing plant closings.

In Milwaukee, unemployment for African-American males is over 50 percent. Unemployed workers and their allies, such as union and community members, youth and students, have occupied all of Ryan’s offices over the past few weeks, protested outside them, e-mailed and called Ryan. Despite this, Ryan refuses to meet with his constituents, many of whom are facing absolute destitution. Yet Ryan always finds the time to meet with his rich backers.

Thus, when it was learned Ryan was to have a pay-per-view $15 luncheon at a Rotary Club in Greenfield, the Service Employees union/community organization Wisconsin Jobs Now! immediately called a protest. At the supper club, those demanding jobs drowned out right-wing Ryan supporters, some of whom were also across the street from the supper club. Many youth, students and community members participated, including union members from the Service Employees, the Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association, the Steelworkers and the Electrical Workers. Others participating included the secretary-treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Stephanie Bloomingdale; members of the workers’ center, Voces de la Frontera; the Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement; Citizen Action; Workers World Party; and many more. During a speakout at the protest, many testified about how their lives are being destroyed by unemployment and about the refusal of states and the federal government to enact jobs programs, the refusal of corporations to hire despite sitting on trillions in cash and the banks being bailed out in the trillions, all while poor and working people are left to suffer, starve and die.

When Ryan arrived at the supper club, he was booed down. Some protesters who decided to pay the $15 for the luncheon took their seats and then completely disrupted the event by confronting Ryan directly about his refusal to fight for state and federal jobs programs and his attacks on social safety net programs. When one protester was dragged from the room by police and security, another one would stand up and confront Ryan. Ryan’s cold-bloodedness came out after a 70-year-old protester with medical challenges was tackled to the ground and handcuffed by security and police. Attempting to make a joke of the situation, Ryan said, “Hope he took his blood-pressure medication.”

After the protesters were all removed by security and the police, they again joined with their sisters and brothers on the outside and vowed that their Jobs Now campaign has just begun.

For more information, updates, photos and videos of protest actions: http://wisconsinjobsnow.org