On the evening of November 17th a number of Occupy protesters in Milwaukee gathered on a bridge over I-43 as part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to the Occupy movement’s agenda. The protesters succeeded in shutting down the bridge for several hours during rush hour causing traffic snarls and generating media attention. In a memorable moment, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn refused to mass arrest the protesters saying, “they can sit and freeze their butts off.” A mass arrest was what protesters wanted.
In the midst of the larger story, another side drama seems to have been unfolding. The bridge protest was held a mere three days into the official period to circulate petitions to force a recall of Governor Scott Walker. Lately, Walker recall supporters have moved to make the Occupy movement an extension of the recall Walker effort and on the bridge recall petitions were circulated among protesters.
An anonymous individual attending the protest captured on camera some potentially disturbing tactics used by the Occupy/Recall Walker petition circulators. The video (posted below) and pictures show a young female signing a recall petition and taking a cigarette offered to her by a person standing near the petition. The individual who recorded the video and took the pictures could not be reached for comment on Saturday evening.
In order for the incident to be a bribe, the cigarette would have had to be offered in consideration for the signature on the recall petition. Wisconsin law does not prohibit anyone from offering something of consideration in exchange for a signature on a recall petition. However, it is illegal to bribe someone in regards to voting. In 2000 the infamous “smokes for votes” scandal caught a Democratic operative handing out cigarettes to Milwaukee’s homeless in exchange for their vote in the presidential election, and earlier this year Wisconsin Jobs Now! came under scrutiny for their tactic of offering minority voters a barbecue chicken dinner if they voted early in a local state Senate recall election.Here is the video: