Pizza for Madison Demonstrators
By Jim Stingl, MIlw. Journal-Sentinel
Ryan Shepard, a librarian from Maryland, has never been to Wisconsin. But he's feeling angry and fearful about Gov. Scott Walker's plan to gut public employee unions.
jsonline.com/video">So he sent a pizza to the tireless demonstrators.
Kristin Hanna is a teacher in River Falls who took a personal day last week to join the protest at the Capitol. She wished she could have stayed longer.
So she sent two pizzas.
Paige Mission is a graduate student at UW with an apartment one block from the Capitol. She spent a night in the rotunda to support the cause and was amazed by how many people she found sleeping there.
So she went online and opened her apartment to any demonstrators who might want to nap or shower there. So far she's had no takers. Many other locals are offering rooms, couches and rides.
"I feel really strongly about what people are doing out here. I want to be able to do as much as I can," said Mission, who came here from California.
Internet networking sites have organized protests throughout the Middle East, and now they're creating a generous support network for the pro-union throng in Madison, including hundreds of free pizzas paid for by people from all over the world. It's a modern-day version of the loaves and fishes.
Scott Leahy from California contacted super-busy Ian's Pizza in Madison and paid for three pizzas for protesters. He told them they could give some to the tea party counterdemonstrators, too. "I said just to tell them it was union money paying for the pizza, but that shouldn't bother a single one as they are all used to sucking off benefits union men and women fought and died to win for them," he posted on Ian's Facebook site.
The retired Department of the Navy worker told me he grew up in northern Illinois and still loves to vacation in Wisconsin. "This new governor wants to undo 100 years of political reform," he told me. "I utterly oppose the plan to do away with collective bargaining."
Every pizza comes with a story. The lucky recipients are told the donor's name and where he or she is from. If the pizza from Shepard could talk, here's what it would say:
"I believe that this is the opening of a new front in the right's long-standing, well-funded effort to destroy or privatize all public services, and to inflate the already obscene wealth of the elites they represent by beggaring working people and pitting us against one another," Shepard said. "If Walker's ilk aren't stopped in Madison, we're likely to be fighting them in Annapolis soon enough."
Hanna paid $50, including a $10 tip, for two large pizzas. She doesn't consider herself a political person or very outspoken. She cried over the phone when she talked about the negativity she's been hearing about teachers supposedly being greedy and overpaid.
"When people say we don't care and that we're horrible, it really hurts," she told me.
Don Watson from Georgia bought two pizzas for the protesters, one from him and his wife, and one from an unemployed friend. Watson is a retired computer guy and disabled due to vision problems. To him, this struggle is about working people supporting one another, union or not.
"I was straining to figure out how I could stand with my neighbors in Wisconsin. I couldn't find a way to get there. I decided if I could not stand with them, I would feed them," he said.
The way pizza donor Colette Marine Lindemann sees it, the budget-repair bill is union busting, and those fighting against it need to keep up their strength. For this Cincinnati-area woman, even old rivalries have been put aside in the name of solidarity.
"As a Northwestern Wildcat through and through," she said, "I never thought I'd say this with such pride, but 'On, Wisconsin!' "
Raccoon News says BRAVO!