MADISON, Wis. -- Those against Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal are settling in for the long haul, pitching tents at the Capitol Square.
The lines have been drawn and the troops have been rallied yet again. Armed with camping gear, protesters are uniting in opposition to the budget proposal being advanced by Walker and his Republican allies in both houses of the state Legislature.
"This budget is a war on working families, the middle class, and anybody that doesn't make a ton of money," said protester Karen Tuerk.
Protesters are calling their tent city "Walkerville," named after the "Hooverville" shantytowns set up during the Great Depression.
Overnight camping will be allowed along parts of Carroll and Mifflin streets. Residents of Walkerville will also have food, portable toilets and hand washing stations.
"There are a lot of great businesses for food we can support while we're down here, so we're not lacking for food," Tuerk said.
Peter McElvanna, who owns Coopers Tavern on the Capitol Square, said he isn't worried about the round-the-clock presence of protesters.
"I'm happy to support what's going on here," said McElvanna. "It's very important what people are doing -- standing up for your rights. Too often the government doesn't listen to the little man and it's our right to protest."
Organizers of the protest said they worked hard to protect the interests of downtown businesses.
"We worked to address the concerns of the downtown business community, so we're trying to stay ahead of the curve and make sure folks are compliant with that," said organizer Peter Rickman.
Tuerk said she hopes their 17-day siege of the grounds around the Capitol will equal a victory for pro-union supporters.
Why 17 days? Organizers said that's when they estimate the state budget will have passed both houses.
"We'll be here until it is passed and letting folks know, letting legislators know, we are completely against what they are doing in there," she said.
And for anyone who thinks residents of Walkerville will tire themselves out, protesters said that's not likely.
"You know, doing this all day, you'd think it'd be a workout, it's really not," remarked Tuerk.
Channel3000.com, Sun Jun 5 2011