By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Capitol police are expecting tens of thousands of protesters on the Capitol Square this weekend at multiple rallies against the potential demise of Roe v. Wade.
In the wake of this week’s attack on a pro-life organization’s office on Madison’s north side and the city’s recent history of leftist-led riots, some are understandably concerned the planned peaceful protests will devolve into disorder, destruction and violence.
Lt. Christopher Litzkow, of the Capitol Police Specialized Services Unit sent the Assembly Sergeant at Arms an advisory Tuesday about the three days of demonstrations planned. Empower Wisconsin obtained a copy of the email from sources inside the Legislature.
“We have a busy weekend planned at the Capitol,” Litzkow wrote, in what could prove the understatement of the year.
On Friday the 13th, “There will be a rally taking place at the State Street area of the Capitol. There will be a larger-than-normal police presence from 3 p.m.-7:30 pm. The building will be open normal business hours,” the lieutenant advised.
On Saturday, an even larger rally is expected to bring out 20,000 to 30,000 people, again at the State Street area of the Capitol, Litzkow said. Police are expected in larger than usual numbers between 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
“Expect traffic delays in the downtown area,” the Capitol Police officer warned.
Another rally is scheduled for Sunday at and near the Capitol.
Litzkow referred Empower Wisconsin’s questions to the Department of Administration.
A Department of Administration spokeswoman said she would provide the names of the groups and individuals on the permits and other information, but then advised Empower Wisconsin to file an open records request (a process that can take months to complete with the Evers administration). She did not respond to a follow-up email.
A Madison Police Department spokeswoman did not respond to multiple messages.
The demonstrations follow the publication of the U.S. Supreme Court’s leaked draft majority ruling that, as it stands, would strike down Roe v. Wade and the subsequent court decisions that have federally protected abortion in the United States for nearly 50 years.
The pro-abortion rallies also follow protests nationwide, some at the homes of conservative Supreme Court members. There have been increasing threats and actual acts of violence against pro-life groups and churches. On Sunday, what appears to be a leftist group attempted to firebomb the Wisconsin Family Action headquarters on Madison’s Northside.
Police continue to investigate what they have described as an act of arson that damaged a corner office and burned books and carpeting before firefighters doused the flames. No one was injured. There were no suspects in custody as of Wednesday. But a radical organization calling itself “Jane’s Revenge” claimed responsibility for the attack. The group promised more violence to come if similar organizations don’t disband nationwide.
“This was only a warning,” the group stated in its “first communique” passed along anonymously to Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based investigative reporting site. “We demand the disbanding of all anti-choice establishments, fake clinics and violent anti-choice groups within the next 30 days.”
“Next time the infrastructure of the enslavers will not survive,” the group declared. “Medical imperialism will not face a passive enemy. Wisconsin is the first flashpoint, but we are all over the US, and we will issue no further warnings.”
Madison is still healing from the “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter protests that turned very violent in the summer of 2020. State Street stores that were vandalized, looted, and smashed up nearly two years ago are still trying to recover from the damage.
In June 2020, rioters tore down and destroyed the two legendary statues that have long guarded the State Capitol, smashed and vandalized the statehouse and firebombed Madison’s City-County Building — putting scores of lives in peril.
Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), openly gay and a BLM advocate, was beaten so badly he required surgery. Why? He captured the riots on his cellphone and begged them to stop.
“Punched/kicked in the head, neck, ribs. Maybe concussion, socked in left eye is little blurry, sore neck & ribs. 8-10 people attacked me,” Carpenter tweeted. “Innocent people are going to get killed. Capitol locked – stuck in office. Stop violence nowPlz!”
As Carpenter noted, Gov. Tony Evers locked down the Capitol and its police.
The State Capitol, too, was damaged. Rioters smashed windows and tried to force their way into offices (interestingly, the attack on the Capitol wasn’t labeled an insurrection). Windows were boarded up for months.
Just a few days before what sources say is a planned massive abortion rights rally at a very hostile moment in time, legislative aides say they have heard nothing beyond the State Capitol Police email from the Evers administration.
“Not even a glancing nod to proactive safety measures thus far,” one legislative source said Wednesday.
The final word from the Capitol law enforcement. “As always, if you see or hear something suspicious, please contact Capitol Police.”