Monday afternoon, as Governor Scott Walker was signing into law a bill that turns the legislative and Congressional redistricting process and any appeals to it upside-down, and as Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch was reassuring the public that Wisconsin has enough cash on hand to survive for three months in the event of a federal government default, Capitol Facilities Manager Ron Blair was tackling a more pressing problem: heart-shaped balloons.
Outside the doors of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Leslie Peterson was reaching down into her shopping bag to remove a heart-shaped balloon so that her friend could take a photo of her with it. As soon as she pulled it out, someone came up behind her and repeatedly stabbed the balloon with a blade. “I’m sick of fishing these off the ceiling,” said the man with the round glasses and handlebar moustache as he walked away.
Shaken up by the sneak attack on her property, Leslie asked the man for his name and identification. He did not respond to her so she asked him again, saying that she was going to file an incident report with the Capitol Police. At that point, he allegedly grabbed her and slammed her up against the door of a women’s bathroom. “I saw blood all over him and me. I didn’t know if he still had the knife, or whether or not I had been stabbed,” said Leslie.
The man, who was later identified as Ron Blair, assistant director in the Wisconsin Department of Administration in charge of facilities management at the Capitol, then ran out of the Capitol and into a building across the street. He later told reporters that the blood all over the stairs and floor in front of the Supreme Court was from an earlier fall he had taken on the stairs. However, Leslie reports seeing blood only after he slashed the balloon.
Meanwhile, Leslie’s screams alerted others who were at the daily Solidarity Sing Along in the Rotunda to call for the police. She and those who witnessed the events were taken to the basement of the Capitol to give their statements. Leslie’s friend, Jenna Pope, had taken several photos of the events, and the camera was taken as evidence, as was the blood-splattered shopping bag containing the slashed balloon.
- Protester punched by right-wing activist at Wisconsin Capitol (dailykos.com)
- Wisconsin Balloon Assault Draws Police Inquiry (newser.com)
- Smaller, disruptive protests now hit Wisconsin Capitol (politicore.wordpress.com)
- Cops probe Wis. balloon popping (politico.com)
- Voter Suppression in Wisconsin (themoderatevoice.com)
- Wisconsin: Walker Shuts Down DMV Offices in Democratic Areas after Passing Voter ID Law (news.firedoglake.com)
- Scott Walker Concedes Mistakes, Defends Policies (huffingtonpost.com)