Police arrest Paul Soglin on Mifflin Street in Madison, Wis., in May 1969. The protest of the Vietnam War erupted into a weekend of unrest that injured dozens after officers in riot gear arrested people for minor infractions while responding to a noise complaint. Soglin, who entered politics as a University of Wisconsin-Madison student, sat on Madison’s Common Council at the time of his arrest. He later served a total of 22 years as Madison’s mayor between 1973 to 2019. The Cap Times
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Policing protests; COVID-19 skeptics; maskless democracy; hospital violence; Foxconn woes


Of note: This week we highlight a story by Clara Neupert, a Wisconsin Watch reporting fellow. She investigates best practices for keeping protests peaceful following a summer in which several Wisconsin cities — including Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee and Wauwatosa — saw police don body armor and fire crowd control weapons during protests that, at times, turned destructive. 

Neupert profiles David Couper, Madison’s police chief from 1972 to 1993. Couper’s philosophy of respecting free speech and assembly offered a blueprint for police to ditch militarized crowd control tactics that, decades of research shows, more often escalate violence rather than prevent it. She reports on a debate in Madison about whether police are still practicing Couper’s philosophy, and she examines how crowds assembling in Kenosha responded to aggressive policing following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August.

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Police arrest Paul Soglin on Mifflin Street in Madison, Wis., in May 1969. The Cap Times

Aggressive policing escalates violence at protests, research shows. A former Madison police chief touts a better way.

Wisconsin Watch – December 9, 2020

David Couper, Madison’s police chief from 1972 to 1993, says law enforcement should ditch the riot gear and tear gas to keep the peace.

Protesters are seen at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24, 2020. Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

COVID-19 killed a thousand Wisconsinites in three weeks. These residents don’t see the danger.

Wisconsin Watch – December 8, 2020

Some Wisconsinites continue to downplay the severity of COVID-19, spurning masks and vaccinations and inhibiting efforts to contain the pandemic. Skeptics interviewed by Wisconsin Watch include people who embrace the increasingly popular QAnon conspiracy theory, are generally suspicious of vaccinations, consume nontraditional medical advice and value personal freedom above what they believe are exaggerated public health considerations. They also acknowledge that their beliefs have put them crossways at work and with family.

In parts of Wisconsin, participating in the democratic process could pose risks to your health

Wisconsin State Journal – December 6, 2020

Spotty internet connectivity in parts of rural southwest Wisconsin can make online meetings impossible. And local resistance to the mask order combined with doubts about their effectiveness to stem the spread of the coronavirus means some residents are risking their health just to see what their government officials are up to — a burden one expert said likely violates the state’s open meetings law.

At Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, a nurse reported being sexually assaulted by a patient in August. Mike De Sisti and Jim Nelson / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Hailed as heroes, hospital workers for years have been bitten, hit, kicked. And ignored.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – December 10, 2020

Across the nation, hospital violence has been a quiet, growing epidemic. While hospitals have hailed nurses and other medical staff as heroes of the pandemic, for decades they have left them vulnerable to abuse and assaults. Health care workers are at five times greater risk of being injured by violence than employees in any other private sector industry. Yet as hospitals reap record profits — many sitting on billions in cash reserves and spending proceeds on acquisitions and expansions — facilities across the country have failed to adequately address the violence plaguing the industry’s employees, an investigation by the Journal Sentinel has found.

‘They demolished my house for this?’ Residents outraged by the Foxconn factory that fizzled

The Guardian – December 8, 2020

When Sean McFarlane recently returned to the site where his lifelong home was demolished, he found in its place a retention pond and hundreds of geese perched on a hill. The quiet scene came as a shock. The Wisconsin village of Mount Pleasant had effectively forced him, his girlfriend and four children from their home in 2017 to make way for a proposed high-tech plant owned by the Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn — a plant Donald Trump had said would soon be the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. Three years later, the factory for which the family went through hell hasn’t been built.

Read more from Wisconsin Watch and WPR, which last year investigated complaints from residents who sold their homes for road widenings that were either abandoned, embellished — or never planned.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.