WAW Mailing List
Brian Austin is a Madison police officer who became involved very early in the protests in response to what he viewed as an assault on the rights of the people he had taken an oath to protect. As founders of the “Cops For Labor” brigade, Brian and his coworkers worked long shifts on-duty around the Capital, and would return to protest as soon as their shifts ended.
Brian slept overnight inside the Capital when it appeared the Walker administration was going to forcibly clear the building and cut off access to the “Peoples’ House.” Brian felt it was extremely important for the police, given their unique role in society, to speak out against the destructive agenda of the Walker administration and the wealthy special interests fueling this attack on labor. Brian and his fellow “Cops for Labor” found that their presence provided a sense of comfort and safety to the other protesters at the Capital. Brian’s wife Melissa was also an extremely active participant in the protests and the “Cops for Labor” movement.
In Brian’s own words: ”The first time we marched into the Capital rotunda with our “Cops for Labor” t-shirts and signs, we were overwhelmed by the emotional response we received from our fellow citizens who were there speak out against what was happening to their state. I realized at that moment that we, as off-duty police officers, had an extremely powerful and important voice in this debate. This was due, in part, to the fact that w
e are often viewed as part of the establishment and power structure, and part of it came from the fact that police unions were actually
exempt from the provisions of this terrible legislation. Our vocal opposition to this bill, and to the horrifying budget the Republicans passed soon after, added credibility to the protests and a dimension that forced people to really critically examine what was happening in this state and across the country. This has been a life-changing event for me, and I am grateful Amie was there to capture it in such an incredible way.”