Wisconsin GOP state senator on overnight Capitol protests: ‘The building’s becoming a pigsty’

A lot can be said about so-called “peaceful” demonstrations by examining the condition of the protest site. In Madison where protests have erupted over whether or not government public employees are entitled to collectively bargain, Wisconsin Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman has called attention to the condition of the state’s Capitol building.

On MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” Tuesday, Grothman explained the justification for wanting to limit the number of people in the building: it’s becoming unsanitary.

“Well, we’re trying to keep some people out of the building because right now the building’s becoming a pigsty,” Grothman said. “People are staying overnight, the building smells. We used to have nice little groups of fourth grade children walking through the building. There was something called the ‘Senate Scholar’ program in which high school kids could track us around. All that is being shut down by a bunch of slobs taking up the building. We can no longer continue to have all those slobs in the building.”

Host Lawrence O’Donnell proposed the possibility that school kids might be able to learn something “more interesting or valuable” with the pro-union protests inside the state Capitol. Grothman dismissed that possibility.

“No, it would be embarrassing for me to take my child through that building today,” he added.


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Grothman explained that those staying overnight in the Capitol building aren’t the rank and file public sector union members, but college students who are, as he put it, “having a fun party.”

“The people that are inside the building are college students who are having a fun party,” Grothman said. “That’s largely who is in the building overnight. And if you get up early Cory [Mason] and talk to who is in the building at 7 a.m., you will find it is largely college students and hangers-on having a party in the state Capitol.”

O’Donnell insisted on a clarification from Grothman, wanting to know if he was saying “all” of the protesters were slobs.

“No, of course not,” Grothman said. “But the people who are staying overnight are largely making a mess of our Capitol. That’s what you’re addressing. Why are we keeping people out of the building? Because we don’t want to have so many people there overnight defacing our beautiful Capitol.”

He also explained to O’Donnell that the police officers, firefighters and other state workers, who shouldn’t be labeled as slobs, constituted a “very small percentage” of the protesters in the Capitol building.

“A very small percentage,” Grothman said. “I think if you would interview all the people who are creating a ruckus – the vast majority who are here today are not police offers or nurses. They are either college TAs, college students, or hangers-on, or unemployed people just looking for somewhere to hang out.”