Ryan fans, protesters keep things moving outside send-off rally in Janesville

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

— While a steady stream of people flowed into Craig High School on Monday to hear Paul Ryan, about 30 protesters chanted opposition to Ryan's politics.

They started on a grass terrace in the north parking lot at Craig High School and chanted at individuals and families as they walked to the school to hear Ryan.

Police wanted more space between protesters and rally attendees. They moved the group north to the lot entrance at Holmes Street.

At about 9:30 a.m., police urged the knot of protesters to move east along the edge of the lot until they were perpendicular to the line of attendees in line for seats to the rally.

"Don't you want to be delivering your message to a crowd?" an officer said to one protester who complained about the move.

A chain-link fence kept protesters out of the parking lot and 150 feet from rally attendees, but it provided easy access for members of the media to communicate with the protesters. Reporters with notebooks, cameras or microphones made their ways up and down the fence, interviewing protesters.

Protester Shanon Molina of Kenosha was careful not to point her megaphone into the ears of journalists working on the other side of the fence. Molina has been following Ryan in protest for about a year, she said. What she wanted to tell him Monday, she said, was that his words and actions don't match.

"He's running on a platform of smaller government, but he's only ever held government jobs," Molina said. "He's completely out of touch with his constituency. We're a strong, progressive, union town."

Just after 10:30, the group chanted, "We'll be back!" before leaving the school campus.

Not everyone lingering outside was protesting. Neil Fletcher of Janesville was one of several people who came to the Craig campus to watch the excitement.

"It's just crazy that this street I grew up on is closed for something like this," he said.

He lived blocks away at the corner of Fremont Street and Oakland Avenue and graduated in 1982, he said.

Fletcher isn't a Ryan supporter, but he does appreciate that such a big-ticket political figure grew up in Janesville. So do many of his friends and former coworkers, who have been calling from cities where Fletcher has lived across the country.

"There's very little in the political spectrum that I agree with Mr. Ryan about," Fletcher said. "But I have to admit, it's pretty exciting to be from Janesville right now. I'm getting calls from people I haven't talk to in years."

Last updated: 5:04 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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