Thousands rally and march on Capitol Square - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Veterans lead thousands on Capitol march Saturday


By Derek Staahl - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- Anti-war veterans led thousands of demonstrators on a march around the Capitol Saturday, marking both the fifth week of protests against Governor Walker's controversial budget bill and the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

"This is bigger than a budget issue," said Army veteran Derek Giffin. "This is an issue about workers rights, it's an issue about human rights."

Neither Madison police nor Capitol police had a crowd estimate at press time. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz estimated there were about 20,000 people on the square.

Veterans said they were concerned about the high spending on foreign wars while programs and services were being cut at home.

According to the non--profit National Priorities Project, the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost Wisconsin taxpayers more than $2.5 billion in 2011.

"If that money was kept here, we would not have a budget problem," said U.S. Navy veteran and Madison native Nathan Tothe.

Said Marine Corps veteran Mark Strudas, "It is very ironic. It's too expensive for collective bargaining rights and to pay a liveable wage, but yet we have plenty of money to send thousands to die and kill innocent civilians."

Other demonstrators said they were cautiously encouraged by Friday's court ruling. They're hopeful the temporary block on the Governor's law restricting collective bargaining rights will translate into some kind of compromise.

The state has already announced it plans to appeal Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi's ruling.

Court arguments in the case are scheduled to continue March 29.


MADISON (WKOW) --  Veterans are joining in the fight for union rights at the state Capitol.

Iraq Veterans Against the War organized a march and rally at the Capitol on the 8th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Those veterans said veterans' rights and workers rights are one in the same.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz told reporters he estimated about 20,000 people were in and around Capitol Square Saturday.

The rally comes just a day after a Dane County judge ordered a temporary restraining order on the budget repair bill, bringing its publishing date to an abrupt halt.

27 News Reporter Derek Staahl was at the event, and will have more on 27 News at 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM Saturday.

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