Leaving Millions in Damage, Wis. Protesters Depart Capitol

by Katrina Trinko

After causing $7.5 million in damages to the state capitol, the last of the Wisconsin protesters filed out last night, singing “Solidarity Forever.” From the Wisconsin Reporter:

MADISON  — The protesters have left the Wisconsin Capitol for now, but Senate Democrats face arrest if the lawmakers fail to return to the chamber. …

At one point, more than 75,000 people crowded in and around the Capitol to protest Walker’s plan.

The departure of three dozen demonstrators — mostly people in their late teens and early 20s, though a few older protesters were present Thursday — came after a Wisconsin judge ruled earlier in the night that authorities could apprehend those who stayed in the Capitol past the normal closing time of 6 p.m.

Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs called for a “return to normalcy” while discussing matters with protest organizers.

Gov. Scott Walker is planning to send 1,500 public employees layoff warnings today if none of the Senate Democrats return.

UPDATE: Wisconsin officials have since revised their estimate, saying that clean-up costs are probably more around $350,000. From the Wisconsin State Journal:

Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch admitted Friday the $7.5 million quoted by DOA lawyer Cari Ann Renlund was “at the high end of the range” and that actual cleanup costs could be as low as $347,500.

Huebsch defended the discrepancy at an afternoon press conference, saying the estimate represented the “best information available at the time” based on a memo by state architect Daniel Stephans.

But in the memo, released to the media Friday, Stephans acknowledged his estimate “was nothing more than an educated guess.”