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Former Senator Dave Zien involved in ruckus at state capitol

By: Amelia Cerling Email
By: Amelia Cerling Email

Former State Senator Dave Zien is making headlines after causing a ruckus in Madison’s capitol rotunda on Tuesday.

Zien, who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in March, was caught on video rolling his wheelchair over protesters belongings in the capitol rotunda during a daily sing-along. We talked to Zien Wednesday afternoon and he tells us it all happened completely differently.

The solidarity sing-along happens ever day at noon in the capitol rotunda. But Tuesday’s sing-along went awry when Zien and two other men entered the rotunda; Zien is seen in the video rolling his wheelchair over protesters belongings.

But Zien told us on the phone it was a protester who slipped a sign beneath his wheelchair.

“That video was made by the protesters, that video started at the point where apparently somebody put something beneath my wheelchair, how dare they treat a cripple like that. But apparently somebody put something beneath my wheelchair and I couldn’t back up and I couldn’t go forward. At no point did I run over anybody’s toes. As far as I know I have the right to free speech like anybody else,” Zien says.

Meanwhile, according to witnesses two other men draped Zien's "Don't tread on me" flag over the singer's heads. Witnesses also say one of the men even punched a protester in the face. Again, Zien refutes these allegations.

“They hit our person, not the other way around,” he says.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports both of those men were arrested, one for battery and the other for disorderly conduct.

“The very last paragraph of the Wisconsin State Journal is the exact opposite. The singers are saying they were being singled out and assaulted, dare they say that. The singled us out and they assaulted us,” he finishes.

A Milwaukee TV station says this is the first incident of violence in what until now has been four months of peaceful protest against Governor Walker's budget and stripping away of public employee’s collective bargaining rights.

Dave Zien served as the 23rd district republican senator from 1993 to 2007. He was not arrested in the rotunda ruckus.

Zien says Capitol police interviewed between 8 and 12 protesters on Tuesday; he is asking that all of them be charged with obstruction of justice for giving false statements.


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