Competing protests at state Capitol ends safely after several tense hours

The state Capitol was the backdrop to a clash of competing protests Saturday afternoon, as both conservative, gun rights advocates and anti-fascist activists organized two opposing protests. Last month, the conservative gun rights group Wisconsin Patriots Alliance announced plans to protest at the Capitol. The Three Percent United Patriots, a nationwide anti-government militia according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, also helped with organizing. In response, an array of left-wing groups, led by the Madison chapter of the International Socialist Organization, organized a counter-protest. Sixteen organizations sponsored the move, including the Madison chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, the Communist Workers League and the Outreach LGBT Resource Center. The counter-protestors met at the top of State Street, while the right-wing protestors met at the foot of the Capitol building. The impetus behind the conservative protest centered on a belief that state officials were planning to restrict their Second Amendment rights. In particular, newly elected Attorney General Josh Kaul’s call for “red flag gun laws” and universal background checks on gun purchases drew ire from the protestors. Red flag gun laws, which have been instituted in a handful of states , allow law enforcement officials and family members to request a judge mandate the temporary disarmament of an individual believed to be a danger to others or themselves. Newly inaugurated Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, have both said they’re open to considering similar laws for Wisconsin. Standing at a podium set in front […]

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