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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Law enforcement officers and public officials present during the 2011 pro-union protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison have described them as largely peaceful. This contrasts with the characterization of the Jan. 6, 2021 protest at the U.S. Capitol. Numerous authorities, both Democratic and Republican, have characterized Jan. 6 as violent. 

During the Madison protests, while 16 people were arrested, none of the arrests were linked to violence or weapons. Madison Police characterized the protesters as assembling “peacefully” and “without violence.”  Wisconsin politicians from both parties were harassed and received threats but were not physically harmed. An uncovered email and a secretly taped phone call showed Gov. Scott Walker had been advised to stage a violent “false flag” event to discredit the protests and considered it, but said he decided against the action.

Meanwhile, 964 people involved in the Jan. 6 riot have been arrested and charged with crimes. About 100 officers were assaulted, and at least seven deaths of officers and protesters were linked to the violent clash.


WKOW: ‘Absolutely no similarity’: Leaders explain difference between Act 10 protests & Capitol insurrection

City of Madison: City of Madison Police Department: Capitol Square protests

Wisconsin Watch: Email to Walker suggested faking violence

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (archive): Caller posing as major GOP contributor dupes Walker

Insider: At least 964 people have been charged in the Capitol insurrection so far. This searchable table shows them all.

New York Times: These Are the People Who Died in Connection With the Capitol Riot

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Jacob Alabab-Moser joined as Wisconsin Watch’s fact checker in September 2022, as part of the effort by The Gigafact Project in partnership with different state-level news outlets to combat misinformation in the 2022 midterm elections. Jacob has several years of experience as a fact checker and research assistant at a variety of organizations, including at The Gigafact Project. He holds a BA from Brown University and is pursuing a MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.