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Racine native arrested for pink slip protest moved to Madison to oppose Walker bill

Racine native arrested for pink slip protest moved to Madison to oppose Walker bill

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Local 'Walkerville' Resident
Miles Kristan, 25, originally of Racine, unzips his tent Wednesday in Madison. Over the past two weeks he lived in “Walkerville” a tent community made up of people protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s budget and collective bargaining changes. / Journal Times Staff Photo by Stephanie Jones

MADISON - When Miles Kristan unzipped the door to his temporary home over the last two weeks, he could clearly see the state Capitol from his new home in "Walkerville."

It was right across the street from his tent.

"Historic," said Kristan, the 25-year-old Racine native. That is the word Kristan uses to describe his recent weeks living in "Walkerville," the tent community set up outside the Capitol to protest Gov. Scott Walker.

The budget has now passed through the Legislature. The state Supreme Court has ruled the collective bargaining law passed legally and the tent community was taken down Friday. The state will soon start to move forward with new laws going into place, but what happened over the last four months will remain a part of the state's history.

Kristan, who has been protesting Walker's budget repair bill since he proposed it, was also arrested back in March in Racine for throwing a pink nightgown or "pink slip" at Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester during a Republican fundraiser (he is due in court Tuesday for that case, according to online records). But that is only a part of his story.

After Walker announced his budget repair bill in February, Kristan was part of the first mass of people who filled the Capitol to protest.

He went there first because his mother and stepfather work for the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He was standing up for their rights, he said. "The second day I met nurses, firefighters ... They encouraged me," Kristan said.

Then the more time he spent in Madison, the more people he met and he more stories he heard about the people who were affected.

When the budget battle erupted he was living in Racine and had recently opened a small art gallery in Milwaukee's Riverwest community. But during the budget process he didn't want to leave Madison so he turned the gallery over to someone else, moved into a Madison apartment and started working at a local restaurant.

"I moved here to fight the Walker agenda," Kristan said.

While he stayed in the Capitol for two weeks during the protests, he would wake up some mornings with sore legs from sleeping on the marble floor. He didn't have an air mattress, he said.

After he woke up there was a drum circle that met in the mornings and he would spent the day organizing protests and running around making sure people had essentials like toothbrushes and clean socks, he said.

"Being in the Capitol was probably one of the most beautiful displays of people expressing their freedom of speech," Kristan said.

Because of the protesters the state was left with a large clean-up bill, but Kristan said they did their part.

At about 9 p.m. every night people would start to shut down and many people would clean, he said.

"You could look down and there in the bottom of the rotunda there were two dozen people sweeping and mopping," he said.

After the protesters were kicked out of the Capitol Kristan continued to help organize rallies and about two weeks ago he moved into his tent across from the Capitol, largely living off free pizza.

Even though the tent community shut down Friday, Kristan said there is more to be done.

"Now it's moving to action. Organizing people," Kristan said. "There are so many people out there in the state that are politically dormant ... You got to talk to the people."


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