House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed solidarity with the workers and students of WI, but she did not explicitly support the storming.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently received backlash from some conservative politicians and journalists for her comments on the storming of the Wisconsin State Capitol in 2011. Many people on social media dubbed Pelosi a "hypocrite" because they claim that the 2011 incident closely resembles the 2021 U.S. Capitol siege, which Pelosi condemned.
Firstly, let's look at what happened in 2011 and whether the two incidents were similar or not.
In 2011, over a million people came to the state Capitol for over a month to protest then-Gov. Scott Walker's plan to balance the budget and his proposed bill to end collective bargaining for the majority of public workers. The crowds eventually made their way inside to voice their opposition against the bill. The protest has mostly been described as peaceful. "Those who were there say the protesters worked with police to stay peaceful, despite some tense moments and threats to lawmakers that led to criminal charges," reported WKOW. "We had a total of 16 arrests," said former Capitol Police chief Charles Tubbs. "Nine out of those 16 arrests were people who wanted to make the record books. And we had minimal damage to the Capitol grounds. And that was due to the fact of the immediate cooperation and reaching out to all citizens, all stakeholders involved in coming to the Capitol to exercise their constitutional rights".
After the U.S. Capitol storming on January 6, some people, mostly conservatives, compared the two events. However, many also said that there was no comparison. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, who was a state representative in 2011, said that "There was absolutely no similarity between the Act 10 protests and the mob violence we saw in Washington, DC and any attempt to compare the two is, frankly, just an attempt to deflect attention and blame away from the culprits who invaded our Capitol in Washington, DC," Parisi said. "[The Act 10 protesters] came there to peacefully protest. The Trump mob did not. The Trump mob attacked, injured and murdered law enforcement."
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that both events differed on four main points. Firstly, five people died in the U.S. Capitol siege, but no one died during the Act 10 protests. Secondly, U.S. Capitol was badly damaged after the siege, and people stole things and ransacked the building. On the other hand, while there was some damage done to the state Capitol in 2011, there were no reports of looting, ransacking, or thefts. Thirdly, after months of protest, less than 20 people were arrested in Wisconsin; however, over a hundred people have been arrested since the 2021 Capitol attack, and many had weapons. Lastly, the reasons for the two protests were completely different; the 2011 protest was against a bill, but the 2021 attack was to overturn a fair and free election.
With the evidence listed above, we can conclude that the two incidents, except for the number of people involved, were not very similar.
Now let's look at what Pelosi said and whether she praised the storming of the Wisconsin State Capitol in 2011.
During the months of protest, Pelosi tweeted twice about the protest, once in February and once in March. In February, she wrote, "@WeGotEd @thelastword I stand with the students & workers of # W.I., impressive show of democracy in action #solidarityWI". This tweet was written the day the Wisconsin Assembly, the state's lower house, delayed a crucial vote on the bill, and Democrats protested that they weren't given a chance to offer amendments on the bill. Then in March, on the day protestors entered the building, Pelosi wrote, "Tonight #WI GOP showed their true aim: undermining workers' rights. I continue to stand in solidarity with #wiunion". To put her tweet in context, on March 10, the Wisconsin Assembly, the state's lower legislative chamber, passed a version of Republican Governor Scott Walker's "budget repair bill" by a vote of 53-42.
Pelosi's tweets did not explicitly praise the storming of the Capitol; rather, she expressed her support for the protest and for doing away with the bill. When Pelosi's tweets are put into context, they in no way seem to be implying that she's praising the storming of the Capitol; instead, she is giving her opinion of important developments around the bill. Moreover, comparing the two incidents [2011 and 2021] is misleading because of how different the two events were.