On Saturday afternoon, the protest movement against Gov. Scott Walker finally died, so to speak. A shuffling, groaning army of zombies lurched up State Street, carrying anti-Walker signs and lamenting the lack of brains -- their favorite food -- at the Republican-dominated Wisconsin Capitol.
Organized on Facebook, the Zombie Walk Against Gov. Walker brought out hundreds of undead with bloody faces, stringy hair, and a commitment to collective bargaining rights. They didn't scare many people as they staggered up State Street, obeying traffic lights and occasionally breaking character to smile at the cheering onlookers.
For weeks, angry signs have flooded Madison to protest Gov. Walker's union-busting budget bill and his cuts to education and health care. After so much earnestness, it was refreshing to see an entire block's worth of black humor:
"I Ate Walker's Brain and I'm Still Hungry!"
"Ghouls for Schools: Educated Brains Taste Better!"
"4 Out of 5 Zombies Recommend Neo-Con Brains"
"Unions Keep Firefighters Undead"
The best line of the afternoon came from a guy with a ghoulish head sprouting out of each shoulder. As he passed mayoral candidate Paul Soglin, the three-headed thing shouted:
"Three votes for Soglin!"
Madison's Travis Reeter, with a gray face and peeling skin, was unusually articulate for a flesh-eater. "Collective bargaining is part of our rights in the United States," he told me. "The assault starts with the public sector and will move on to the private sector next."
So what do zombies have to do with collective bargaining?
"This keeps the pressure on while keeping everybody smiling at the same time," Reeter said. "It puts lightheartedness into a serious situation."
One of the people smiling was Capt. Carl Gloede of the Capitol Police, who seemed to greatly enjoy the gory spectacle. "It's another unique Saturday afternoon," he said.
Capt. Gloede affirmed that the zombies had a permit to march and were being very cooperative. But don't be fooled -- this undead legion truly is out for blood, at least in the upcoming election. As one sign put it:
"Come Alive April 5!"