It was a little-noticed story. Last week the Madison Police Department reported that crime was down 13% in the first quarter of 2011 from the previous year.
It's true that crime has been trending down for some time, but this drop is especially significant. During the first quarter of this year, hundreds of thousands of people converged on downtown Madison to protest Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to bust unions.
Tens of thousands of people every day for more than a month, carrying signs, chanting slogans, waving banners... high emotions, but no violence. Even littering was down with our mall maintenance crews telling me that the crowds were especially careful to pick up after themselves. Downtown Madison was much more peaceful and cleaner during all those protests then it was on a typical football weekend.
While scenes from other parts of the world show political upheavals complete with fires and bombings and bloody confrontations, Wisconsin is showing the world that peaceful protest can be effective.