Tuesday, May 1, 2012


By Daniel Lee
OKLA. CITY - On Wednesday, April 11, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came to Oklahoma on his nationwide speaking tour sharing his unique perspective as a union-buster, corporate lackey, and anti-woman ultra-right extremist. He was predictably welcomed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon and a gathering of Oklahoma City elites at the black tie event held at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, but was also thrown a much more energetic welcoming party outside the gates by people who did not pay the $1500 per plate fee. The “Scott Walker Welcoming Committee” – organized by members and officers from various union locals, dropped a banner from a nearby interstate overpass, with a giant “Labor Omina Vincit” (Labor Conquers All) emblazoned on it to kick off the festivities. The group began staging at the former Howard Johnson motel up the street from the museum.
By 5pm, over 300 demonstrators had gathered, coming from across central and eastern Oklahoma, making it one of the largest labor rallies in the state in over 20 years. Beans and cornbread - classic picket line fare - were provided, and the rally had a festive atmosphere with Billy Bragg playing over the PA system in the background. Union members, supporters, and their families passed out signs and stickers, and waited for the kickoff to begin. The march permit allowed us to demonstrate on either side of the road in front of the facility from 6pm to 7pm. An unmarked car, obvious with its bristling roof antenna and mirror shaded occupant sat watching us from the other side of the road. When a few of us started walking down towards the building at 5:30, we were immediately stopped. After working through a strange encounter with the police, we returned to the staging area to ready to the rally to march.
We moved down the road, carrying signs and banners, talking, laughing, and chanting as we marched. I joined a group setting up across the street facing the building while the bulk of marchers divided itself on either side of the Museum’s entrance. As cars filled with attendees began turning into the parking lot, we chanted “Recall Walker! Recall Fallon!” and “Shame!” as they drove past our assembly. Escalades and BMWs trickled in as our chants reverberated through the streets. Nervous security guards and our plainclothes observer paced the parameter of the compound, waiting and eager for a protester to break ranks and rush the building. We maintained the line however, and channeled our anger and energy into shouts and chants which could reportedly be heard from within the building. A local news crew and freelance journalists arrived, shooting footage and taking a few statements. Scanning for coverage later on revealed however, that none of the footage ever aired, and the one AP article that ran in only a handful of small town newspapers contained a brief reference to the protest and a quote amidst fawning coverage for the “courageous” Gov. Walker. Go figure.
With throats hoarse and spirits high, we marched back to the rally point and enjoyed food which we all agreed was far better fare than the Buick-priced steak dinners Walker and his cronies were having down the road. None of us will forget the comradeship and unity on that day, where workers gathered together to make our voices heard, shaking the walls of the elite. This is just the beginning. We have a long fight ahead of us to retake our rights as workers and citizens, but if what I saw at the rally was any indication of things to come, labor will prevail.

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