Best of times for the Capitol’s homeless?

While a lot of people who don’t spend much time around the Capitol building in Madison may not know it, there is a small population of homeless people that inhabit the grounds and the building. It was always a sobering sight as we walked into the building each morning, since it was closed to the public until 8 a.m. The homeless folks would sleep in various locations — some lucky enough to find places where warm air was being discharged from a grate or something.  Once the building was opened at 8 a.m., they would filter in to use the restrooms, warm up and start their day, such as it was.

A close-up look each morning at grinding poverty and personal issues like that will certainly keep a person from complaining about going to work. 

I don’t think about it much, now that I don’t walk past the scene every day — kind of a case of “out of sight and out of mind.”  But a picture that came in over Twitter this afternoon made me think of it again. 

There is an unending supply of pizza being delivered to the Capitol for a good part of the day and night now, compliments of people all over the country who are calling in orders, paying for them by credit card and asking that they be delivered to the protesters in Wisconsin. They do it to support the cause and it’s a very thoughtful and tangible gesture — sort of like manna that just shows up. 

The protests have also meant that the Capitol building itself has been open around the clock for the better part of two weeks. 

What all of this means is that times could be the best they’ve ever been for the Capitol’s homeless, since they don’t have to sleep outside and there is plenty to eat. It may be one of the few good things that I can think of about the present state of affairs, but it’s something.  And for Ian’s Pizza on State Street, it’s got to be like having a non-stop Super Bowl party.

As Dickens said:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Of course, all good things come to an end. The Wisconsin State Journal informs us today…

The enormous “protest village” that has taken hold inside the state Capitol the past two weeks will officially end this weekend.

Capitol police announced Friday that they would kick out protesters and close the Capitol doors at 4 p.m. on Sunday, a move that would allow crews to begin cleaning up after possibly the longest and most intense protests in state history.

* * *

So we’ll have to see how that goes.


UPDATE: New York Times picks up on the Ian’s Pizza story:


One Response to “Best of times for the Capitol’s homeless?”

  1. Nancy L. Schulz Says:

    I share your insights from my experience of three overnights in the capital. Each night as I walked my traditional round of the rotunda and hallways, (I must have been a border collie in a past life), I spotted at least a couple of grizzled homeless looking men stretched out along a hallway sleeping with ahhhh blissful smiles.

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