Police chief Noble Wray of Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday asked Republican Gov. Scott Walker to explain "very unsettling and troubling" comments made in what he thought was a private phone call.
Pranked by a gonzo journalist pretending to be conservative billionaire David Koch, Walker said on the 20-minute call that his administration considered planting "troublemakers" in the crowd of demonstrators opposing his budget, which curtails the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
"I spent a good deal of time overnight thinking about Governor Walker's response, during his news conference yesterday, to the suggestion that his administration 'thought about' planting troublemakers among those who are peacefully protesting his bill," Wray said in a statement." I would like to hear more of an explanation from Governor Walker as to what exactly was being considered, and to what degree it was discussed by his cabinet members."
"I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers. Our department works hard dialoging with those who are exercising their First Amendment right, those from both sides of the issue, to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure they can demonstrate safely," he said.
Walker hinted in the call that he ultimately decided against planting "troublemakers" in the crowd. He joked to the Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy, who he thought was Koch, that he may use a baseball bat in his office to go after the protesters.
Wray said he was "concerned" what Walker's remarks could signify, adding that it's his "responsibility" to "find out more about what was being considered by state leaders."
Wisconsin Democrats fled the state last week to prevent the Republican majority from getting the necessary votes for the bill.
On the call, Walker expressed no desire to back down in what has become a high-profile national issue, and seemed confident that enough Democrats would eventually come around to help push his measure through.
Photo credit: Wisconsin State Journal