State Worker Arrested In Capitol Balloon Incident

Capitol Visitor Says State Employee Popped Her Balloon

MADISON, Wis. - Police said they have arrested a state worker who is accused of popping a protester's balloon at the state Capitol.

The state Department of Administration, which runs the Capitol and oversees the Capitol Police Department, issued a statement saying the worker was arrested on suspicion of endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon on Thursday. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said he has to review the case before making a charging decision.

DOA has placed the worker on paid leave until the agency concludes an internal investigation.

Protesters demonstrating against Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining law have been bringing balloons to a daily sing-along in the Capitol rotunda. One of them claims the worker popped her balloon and threw her into a door following Monday's sing-along.

Drops of blood were splattered on the Capitol floor where police said the altercation took place. The worker told investigators he slipped and cut himself before the incident began.

Building manager Ron Blair, an employee with the Division of Facilities, confirmed to WISC-TV on Monday that he was involved in the incident. Capitol police confirmed Thursday that Blair was the employee arrested on a misdemeanor charge.

Blair had no comment when reached by phone Thursday.

The woman involved said Thursday she feels bad for Blair but is concerned about Capitol safety.

"I also feel like the Capitol should be safe for everyone, of every political persuasion. This is a peaceful protest. I want this to be a safe place, and I will be interested to see how things turn out," Leslie Peterson said.

Peterson said she has only been bringing a balloon in for the noon hour sing-alongs and delivering them to Democratic legislators, not letting them go in the rotunda as some have been.

Capitol police have said they don't want balloons in the building because of issues with the painting and murals on the ceiling when the balloons are let go and float to the top of the rotunda.

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.

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