Vice President Mike Pence's visit to Janesville draws protesters

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Jake Magee and Xavier Ward
Friday, March 3, 2017

JANESVILLE—As many as 85 people chanted and waved signs Friday outside Blain Supply in Janesville before Vice President Mike Pence's motorcade arrived, the Janesville Police Department estimated.

Police made no arrests.

A handful of protesters started gathering about 9 a.m. outside the state Division of Motor Vehicles office across the street from Blain Supply, 3507 E. Racine St., where Pence was scheduled to attend a listening session and tour.

Police asked the group to relocate after DMV office workers cited concerns about the protest hindering business, and the protesters complied, police Sgt. Ben Thompson said.

Most of the protesters said they opposed President Donald Trump's administration, but one Milton man said he supported Trump and Pence. The protesters came from northern Illinois and around southern Wisconsin.

Among them:

-- Jim Leggett of Evansville was the first protester to show up Friday morning, saying he wanted to voice his frustration with the Trump administration.

He cited health care, the border wall and former national security adviser Michael Flynn's involvement with the Russian ambassador.

“The issues are just too numerous to name,” he said.

-- Gary Overturf of Delavan waved an American flag because he said he was protecting American values.

He said values the protesters support—equality, women's rights and helping the poor—are American values, so the flag spoke more clearly than a protest sign for him.

"I think our democracy is being tested,” Overturf said.

-- Terry Leonard of Cherry Valley, Illinois, said he wanted to send a message to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Pence that they need to focus on representing their constituents, not corporate interests.

Leonard said government needs to purge itself of corruption, and he wants to see politicians get rid of "corrupt money" in politics.

“I just want to get corruption out of our government,” he said.

-- Mike Tuten of Madison attended the protest to oppose Trump.

“I've had a professional career dealing with con artists, and this is about the biggest one I've ever had to deal with,” he said.

Tuten said he worked as an investigator for the state Division of Securities, which monitors the activities of brokers and investment advisers, among others.

-- Gary of Milton, who would not give his last name, came to the protest to support Trump and Pence.

“I think the other side needs to be represented,” he said.

Gary brandished multiple signs stating “Honk for Trump” and “? Your News.”

Shortly before 11 a.m., the motorcade passed the protesters and turned into Blain Supply. The crowd dispersed shortly thereafter.

Roads were temporarily closed in front of Blain Supply to accommodate the motorcade, but no other traffic actions were taken, Thompson said.

“I would say it went really well. We've had no issues at this point with the protesters,” Thompson said.

Janesville police were assisted by more than 160 law enforcement and fire personnel from Madison, UW-Madison, Wisconsin Capitol Police, Beloit, Clinton, Evansville, Milton and the sheriff's offices of Rock and Dane counties.

Last updated: 2:01 pm Friday, March 3, 2017

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