When the Wisconsin Senate was about to propose an anti-union bill in early 2011, protests began with day-long public hearings in Madison, WI. Most of the protestors were white, but they were diverse regarding their age and social status. While the proposed bill was at the center of attention, demands of the activists also concerned austerity policies and the state of democracy in general.

The protests were fueled when the 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin Senate left the state to keep the bill from being passed on February 28, 2011. The State Capitol became occupied and grew into a site of continuous activism, at its peak including more than 100,000 activists.

After two weeks of occupation, Governor Walker finally removed the protestors from the building, and a modified bill was drafted. When the legislation had passed the Senate, the protests came to an end.

Peschanski and Wright (2011) argue that the occupation of the Madison State Capitol was important in changing the framing of the debate around austerity. Because of this, and especially because of the strategy of occupying a public space, it is commonly argued that the Madison, WI protests have influenced the Occupy Wall Street Movement which started later that year.

Peschanski, J.A. / Wright, E.O. 2011: The Wisconsin Protests. Social Science Computing Cooperative, University of Wisconsin.
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