By Joe Vitte
An elderly Madison woman, well known by supporters, and opponents, of the Madison anti-Walker movement, came within inches of being repeatedly stabbed by a knife-wielding Capitol Police officer on the State Street Capitol steps at approximately 1:30pm today.
I was an eye witness to the attack on this iconic figure in the Madison protest movement, known for her perseverance – she has stood sentry at the Capitol every day since the Walker inauguration – and her steadfast progressive ideals.
Today’s antiwar protest, on the State Street Capitol steps, had peacefully concluded, and friends were enjoying conversation and the beautiful day. My twelve-year old daughter was excited to tell me that she had just given her own heart balloon to this wonderful woman.
I was surprised that she gave away a treasured ballon, and when I asked why she did, she said that the lady, who was already carrying half a dozen balloons in her outstretched hand, would be a strong message of love – and against war.
That’s when Capitol Police Officer Steven Mael, accompanied by a Department of Natural Resources game warden, who one person thought was named S. Panza, approached the woman from behind, and without warning, took a large knife, and repeatedly stabbed each of the balloons.
Each vicious puncture came within inches of this Zen-like woman. Yet even when Officer Mael ripped the knotted balloon strings from her weathered wrist, she offered no complaint.
Unfortunately, numerous children were witness to this violent action. And while the assembled protestors comforted the shocked youth, Mael, and his DNR Warden compatriot, quickly left the scene.
A young Madison activist raced to her older sister, with a new bundle of balloons; and after checking to insure that our Senior Solidarity Citizen was unscathed, tied the new balloons to her wrist.
But hell hath no fury like a Capitol Police officer scorned – and Mael, his knife shining in the autumnal sun, crept up from behind. Again, without warning to the woman, he committed a heartless assault on an iconic symbol of compassion and peace, the red heart balloon.
Mael quickly dispatched each of the half dozen balloons, in his Quixotic tilting at this Senior Citizen’s exercisie of her right to Freedom of Speech – and then hurried away with DNR Warden Panza – leaving the assembled crowd to cope with the aftermath.
But the elderly citizen – Lady Forward – stood proudly, unwavering, her right hand reaching to the west, as if seeking a better future for all of her brothers and sisters.