The day after Scott Walker's ceremonial signing of a bill stripping collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin's public employees, tens of thousands of protestors once again filled the Capitol Square Saturday. "Kill the bill" was no longer heard, but a new chant rose to take its place: "What's the word? Kloppenburg!"
Although they lost a battle in the legislature, pro-union protestors have pledged to win the middle class war. Their newest slogans centered around this goal, urging protesters to recall the eight eligible Senate Republicans, and to vote JoAnne Kloppenburg to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
To that end, clipboard-wielding activists commandeered a Carroll Street bus shelter, urging protestors parading past to sign (if they hadn't already) their senator's recall petition. "Vote for Kloppenburg" signs suddenly became a ubiquitous fixture of the protest landscape.
Overall, the rally looked to be the biggest yet, with Madison police estimating a crowd size of 85,000-100,000.
The day began with a morning "Farmer Labor Tractorcade" that circled the Square with antique tractors and farmers who led the chants (and, of course, honks) of "Show me what democracy looks like!" and "Recall Walker!"
Early afternoon saw "Art Workers March Together" ... a.k.a., "The Blue Tape Brigade." Lavishly decorated in the type of tape used to affix posters to the Capitol's wall, around 100 actors, painters, musicians and others marched from the Overture Center to the gathering on the Square, beating drums and carrying possibly the largest and most elaborately constructed palm tree yet.
On the stage atop the State Street walkway to the Capitol, Ryan Bingham returned to serenade the crowd once again. The Raging Grannies also took their turn with some tunes.
Of course, the highlight of the day was unquestionably the return of the 14 Senate Democrats. An overflow crowd that packed the Square and several State Street blocks greeted the returning senators like celebrities, chanting: "Thank you! Thank you!" and "Welcome home!"
After the senators had their turn at the mic and their share of the applause, the Reverend Jesse Jackson took the stage to drive home the message of the day. A chorus of voices ricocheted off the Capitol and down State Street, taking up the reverend's cry: "April 5, come alive!"