On Feb. 15, I went to La Crosse[where the heck was I?] for a visit to a manufacturing company. Outside the facility, we were greeted by hundreds of angry protesters, but inside we got an enthusiastic reception from the blue-collar workers. As I recall, they were paying about 25 percent of their health insurance premiums and had to match their employer contributions to their pensions, so they didn’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the folks outside complaining about having to pay 5.6 percent for their pensions and 12.6 percent for their health care. It was a great event.continue at Charlie Sykes
As we prepared to leave, the state troopers saw that the protesters had physically blocked the entrance we had used to come onto the property. So they turned the squad car around and headed toward the other exit. We watched in disbelief as the throng of people rushed toward the second exit to block our path. As we tried to pull out, they surrounded the car and began beating on the windows and rocking the vehicle. Just as we extricated ourselves from their grip, a truck pulled up and blocked our path, playing a game of chicken with the troopers. They turned the lights and sirens on and warned him to get out of way. Eventually he backed up, and we sped off.
It was a lesson in how much our circumstance had changed in a matter of a few days. We were dealing with people who were so blinded by their anger that they were not in the least bit afraid to storm and shake a police car. We had never seen anything like it in Wisconsin before.
And that was only the beginning. The protests following us around the state grew bigger and louder — and the protesters got more aggressive with each passing day....