Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Progressive: Why My Parents Just Got Arrested in Madison

By Rebecca Kemble
Posted July 25, 2013, on The Progressive
Reprinted in part with permission

MADISON -- My parents were arrested yesterday [July 24, 2013]. They are 85 and 80 years old. Their crime was singing in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol without a permit.

Tom and Joan Kemble moved to Madison two years ago when they realized that the steady march of time meant it would not be long before their physical ability to tend to their 20-acre organic farm they had so lovingly cultivated for three decades would decline.

(Photo insert: Joan, left, and Tom Kemble, the author's parents, singing in the Capitol in Madison, Wis., on July 24, 2013, just before they were arrested. Photo © and courtesy Rebecca Kemble)

It was difficult for them to leave the life, friends, fellowships and activist causes they had been involved with for the more than 50 years they had called Glastonbury, CT, home. It was also difficult for them to leave the region where three of their children and five of their ten grandchildren live.

But they were moving closer to two other daughters and the other five grandchildren. They were also looking forward to participating in the rich musical and political life that Madison has to offer.

Dad now plays the French horn in three local bands and orchestra, sings in his church choir and is a devoted participant in the noontime Solidarity Sing Along at the capitol.

Mom also attends the Sing Along and is active with several local causes, including racial justice, environmental and anti-war initiatives.

Before they moved here, Mom thought that my description of post-2010 political conditions in Wisconsin as proto-fascist was overblown rhetoric. But over the past two years, my parents have attended numerous public hearings and legislative sessions at the capitol, where they have seen first-hand the corporate control of state government and the authoritarian use of force employed to back it up.

Now Mom says, "I know what you mean."

Mom being led away by two officers twice her size. (Photo © and courtesy Rebecca Kemble)

Yesterday both Mom and Dad felt what it means when dozens of Capitol Police, state troopers, Department of Justice criminal investigation officers, and DNR game wardens conducted a mass arrest of 22 people who were singing peacefully in the rotunda.

The Solidarity Sing Along began in March, 2011, as a way to maintain an oppositional voice to [Wisconsin Governor] Scott Walker’s government and policies after they rammed through Act 10, the law that all but busted public sector unions in the state. The law is being challenged and is still working its way through federal and state courts. ...

Click here to read the rest of this article and see more photos.

Click here for the video, by Rebecca Kemble, of her mother continuing to sing while being arrested.

See also the July 27, 2013, article "WI Capitol Crackdown Mass Arrests: Videos," by Leslie Amsterdam, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative.

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