WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Protesters welcomed Governor Walker to Wausau Thursday with cheers and jeers, displaying the sharp divide over the budget repair bill that has rocked the rest of the state over the last month.
Supporters and opponents gathered outside the Wausau downtown airport where Walker held a noon news conference. Wausau police and state troopers separated both sides with yellow police tape.
“We can no longer sustain the Cadillac privileges of the public employee unions,” said Wausau Tea Party organizer Meg Ellefson. She joined a group of supporters in holding signs that read “We love Scott Walker” and “Standing with Walker.”
Opponents beat drums and chanted through megaphones, shouting “Save the middle class!” and “Recall Walker!” They also held homemade signs that read “Shame! Shame! Shame!” and “Stop the war on workers.”
“Governor Walker's agenda is about union busting and the right to collective bargaining I consider a basic human right,” said opponent Dave Wille.
“Passion is good in a democracy. Free and open debate is what it's all about,” Walker said, acknowledging the protests. “Anytime you challenge the status quo, there's going to be passion. We welcome that debate.”
But Walker urged demonstrators to remain civil and professional, citing death threats received by him and other Republican lawmakers.
“It is my hope that the good people of Wisconsin would call on those in the Capitol not to pull back on their passion but to make sure they're respectful of others' viewpoints.”