On Monday July 25, 2011 Leslie Peterson was about to get her picture taken while holding a heart balloon outside of the Supreme Court during the Solidarity Sing-a-long. Out of nowhere, Ron Blair, the State’s Assistant Facilities Director at the Capitol, came up to Leslie without saying anything and popped the balloon with a blade, cutting himself in the process. Leslie and photographer Jenna Pope were startled and proceeded to question him, asking for his name and why he popped the balloon. Blair turned around and grabbed at Leslie’s wrists in a fit of anger, and pushed her against a bathroom door. Once Leslie started screaming for help, Blair ran off and left the building. Jenna then called for the police, and two of them pursued Blair out the doors (all this time bleeding profusely), at which point they identified him to Jenna as Ron Blair, who works in the Capitol. He then fled to his office across the street in Risser Justice Center, and the cops followed him into the building.
In response to this incident and patterns of behavior in the Wisconsin Capitol, WE DEMAND:
Department of Administration must suspend Blair without pay, pending results of an investigation into the incident with Leslie Peterson and the heart-shaped balloons in the Capitol rotunda on July 25, 2011.
Update: Ron Blair was placed on administrative leave on July 26th and will remain on administrative leave until this incident is resolved. As a part of the Department’s internal disciplinary process, we ask that the Department punish him to the full extent of their policies.
Department of Administration must set the record straight. We actively dispute the Department’s claim that Blair “fell down the stairs”—he cut himself in the process of popping Peterson’s balloon and the Department’s statement on the incident needs to correct that.
Update: As a part of the closure of the incident, we would like the Department to publish Ron Blair’s public apology which should include a correction to his previous statement that he did NOT in fact fall on the stairs, but that he injured himself with the weapon which he used to pop Leslie’s balloon.
Public apology from Ron Blair for the aggression towards Leslie Peterson for endangering her with the blade and putting his hands on her while bleeding, as well as for pushing and restraining her.
Update: Even though Blair has been arrested and charged with endangering public safety with a dangerous weapon by the Capitol Police, he has yet to release any statement. In addition to his acts which impacted Leslie, Ron Blair’s blood has stained the Capitol marble permanently.
An investigation into the incident with Ron Blair and Leslie Peterson on July 25, 2011. We want full public disclosure of the report, and Blair should be punished to full extent of the law based on the findings of the investigation.
Update: The Capitol Police have concluded their investigation, and on Friday 29 July they arrested and charged Ron Blair with a Class A Misdemeanor—“endangering public safety with a dangerous weapon.” This charge speaks nothing to the fact that he came at Leslie Peterson with a knife, a deadly weapon, and shortly thereafter grabbed onto her by the wrists and shoved her into a heavy door, holding Leslie long enough to bleed on her. We are seeking the Dane County District Attorney to look closer into the incident and upgrade the charge to reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. Uncontrolled frustration, a history of anger management problems, and wielding a knife at a private citizen on the job should all add up to make a felony charge. Even if he deserved the benefit of the doubt because the releasing of balloons in the dome is an understandable frustration and he was popping the balloon preemptively, he still shoved Leslie into a door, bleeding on her arm and bag in the process. This shows a lack of restraint and a tendency toward violence when losing his temper that should not be glanced over. If the District Attorney were to charge Ron Blair with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, he would be prosecuting Ron Blair to the fullest extent of the law.
A meeting with Chief Tubbs of the Capitol Police and his leadership team to address community concerns for growing police aggression towards citizens and the equal enforcement in the Capitol.
Update: Following the conclusion of the investigation, Leslie Peterson is requesting the CD of photos from her confiscated camera and any copies that were made be returned to her. Keeping these 1132 photographs is a violation of Leslie’s fourth amendment rights—and a violation of the rights of all the people depicted in the photographs. Also the public would like the full report of the investigation disclosed. In addition to concluding this case, we continue to demand that the Capitol Police treat all Capitol visitors with due diligence. When engaging with non-violent protestors (including taking them into custody) we ask that all people are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their alleged violation of the law. We have repeatedly observed police abuse their discretion by escalating to hands-on force with non-violent protesters to the point of injury. The precedent has been set that protesters will maintain non-violence, but this use of police force stresses the balance of resistance and threatens to unnecessarily push protests to violence.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO BRING JUSTICE IN SUPPORT OF LESLIE PETERSON:
Email Secretary Mike Huebsch, condemning Blair’s actions and demanding his public apology be published by the Dept. of Administration at Mike.Huebsch@wisconsin.gov or call him at 608-266-1741.
Email Dane County District Attorney Ismael R. Ozanne, asking that he consider charging Blair with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, at email@example.com or call him at 608-266-4211.
Join us at every weekday from noon to 1pm at the Capitol for the Solidarity Sing-a-long to get your fix of heart balloons. Wear it around your wrist, keep it in your office, or tie it to your front porch to remind yourself and passers-by of our commitment to the non-violent rejection of Wisconsin degrading from a progressive democracy to a fascist republic.