Nick Nice is already renowned for his prowess at capturing an audience's attention as an internationally accomplished DJ. Once the protests started, he applied his talents to selecting and sharing information about them, using Facebook as his deck.
Since February, Nice has shared as many as a dozen items a day via the social network, sharing Capitol-related reports, commentaries and events listings with thousands of friends in Madison and around the world. "They want to know what's going on, and don't have time to search for all of these stories, so it's easier just to provide them one good source," he says."
Nice also maintains a Twitter account, @nicknicemadison, on which he likewise shares media reports and calls attention to breaking developments.
"I'm just trying to keep people informed, since a lot of the mainstream media has been atrocious in its coverage," explains Nice, who also attended the Capitol protests nearly every day during the first two months.
Though not a union member himself, Nice, 41, was inspired to dive into the protests by the memory of a high school friend's father who worked for AFSCME. "It just struck close to home," he says.
Nice recalls the years he lived in France, where large-scale labor demonstrations are common. "I never thought I'd see the level of intensity here, in terms of people coming out into the streets," he says.
As the political standoff wore on, Nice started thinking that the protesters needed to make more noise. Literally. DJing at Maduro the Sunday after demonstrations started, he and some friends talked about "how they needed to get louder."
A dedicated soccer fan, Nice had the idea of equipping protesters with vuvuzelas, the loud plastic horns made infamous at the 2010 World Cup. He ordered 200, distributing the entire stock in days.
Vuvuzelas henceforth became a ubiquitous feature of the protests. "I am honored that they were included on the specific list of banned items at the Capitol," Nice says.
At the same time, Nice started calling for efforts to confront Walker and his supporters with video cameras, and to ostracize them in the process. One example was "Operation Esquire," in which he distributed video a friend shot at a Madison restaurant, capturing Republican legislators celebrating the situation at the Capitol.
"My biggest achievement with using social media is that I've been able to get people who weren't politically active more interested in politics," says Nice. "This has been the biggest civics lesson for everybody."