A massive pro-Trump protest was expected. The Humvees waited, and rolled away at 5 sharp.
By Kay Nolan, Jan. 17, 2021
MADISON, Wis. — In Wisconsin, where freezing temperatures or clouds have never deterred noisy political protests, and where rallies that have attracted thousands of people have been occurring with increasing frequency, Sunday’s expected pro-Trump rally was all but a no-show.
Police vehicles and military Humvees were stationed all day at the entrances of the Capitol, a massive dome with four stately wings.
Ground-level windows had been boarded up with plywood ahead of expected protests. Temporary concrete barriers and red anti-ramming devices were erected near the entrances. Police had temporarily blocked off streets closest to the Capitol. But morning came and went, as well as mid-afternoon, and not a Trump flag was in sight.
Only groups of news reporters and a few curious residents and students from nearby University of Wisconsin-Madison strolled about in lightly falling snow. On the park-like lawns between the Capitol wings, which had teamed with crowds on a chilly day last April in protest of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home and mask-wearing orders, and in February 2011 in protest of then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 orders, which stripped most public-sector employees of bargaining rights, as well as numerous other rallies since, only a few squirrels were scampering about in the snow.
A few lone young men — one wearing a plate-carrying vest and the other holding a large sign that was folded under his arm, circled the Capitol, scowling and looking confused. One could be heard complaining into a cellphone that police were “prepared,” and wondering why they weren’t as prepared for Black Lives Matter protests.
Two men — on opposite sides of the political spectrum — waited patiently for hours, however, each surprised at the lack of attendance.
Jesse Ransom, 39, said he was there to counter Trump supporters. “They are usually here by about noon,” Ransom said of the pro-Trump rallies that he has frequented. He said he came prepared with a “trauma kit” that he said was designed to treat gunshots or stab wounds.
“I usually show up for Black Lives Matter protests,” said Ransom, who is white. “A lot of what Trump says does not resonate with me. This rally here is pretty much supporting fascism and racism for the next four years, and I’m not ok with that.”