Scuffle erupts at political rally Sunday
JANESVILLE Police were called when opposing groups clashed at a rally in downtown Janesville on Sunday night.
About 140 supporters of presidential candidate Mitt Romney had assembled in a lot along East Court Street, around the corner from the local Republican campaign offices. About 25 people showed up to protest.
Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Paul Ryan arrived on a Romney tour bus and began speaking on a small stage when a few of the protesters holding signs tried to move close to the stage.
Some protesters chanted "Ron Johnson supports China!"
Among the protesters was WTDY radio host John "Sly" Sylvester, known to many as Sly in the Morning. Sylvester and several supporters brought Chinese flags and accused Johnson of exporting jobs to China. Johnson said in an interview later that he does not employ anyone in China.
Some rally-goers tried to block the protesters who were trying to get close to the stage. The two sides pushed at each other. One man repeatedly poked two small American flags at the sign held by one of the protesters.
Johnson called for voters to replace President Barack Obama with Mitt Romney and quickly turned the microphone over to Ryan.
"This is Janesville. We're civil with one another. … We're not going to let these things distract us," Ryan said.
Six police officers arrived and ordered the protesters to step onto an adjacent grassy lot. They complied. Police reported no arrests at the scene.
One person—it was not clear from what side—complained to police that he had been assaulted. Police were investigating. No other details were immediately available Sunday night.
The speeches were kept short. Johnson and Ryan proceeded to sign autographs and pose for photographs with supporters while country music blared, including Toby Keith's "Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)."
The two Republican legislators arrived on a Romney bus that stopped at several GOP campaign offices Sunday.
The Democratic Party of Rock County had sent an email urging supporters to join Sylvester's protest at the rally.
"We're both on the same side. We want prosperity back in America for every generation," Romney supporter Deborah Moore of Janesville said afterward.
"It breaks my heart that they are so angry, and I try not to be," Moore said.
Others in the crowd were not so nice, exchanging shouted taunts with the protesters before the bus arrived. At one point, both sides chanted, "USA!"