MADISON, Wis., Aug. 4 (UPI) — A state worker who popped a Wisconsin Capitol protester’s balloon with a knife could face a year in jail for disorderly conduct and use of a dangerous weapon.
Ronald Blair, 56, of Jefferson, an assistant director of the Division of State Facilities, was to be arraigned Thursday. He faced up to a year in jail on the two counts.
He told police he hadn’t intended to pop the balloon held by protester Leslie Peterson July 25, but he snapped and “it just happened,” a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court states.
Peterson told police she was in front of the state Supreme Court chambers on the second floor of the Capitol when Blair walked up behind her and stabbed a balloon she was taking out of a paper bag with a knife.
He then misidentified himself as a Capitol Police officer and said he was tired of retrieving balloons from the Capitol, Peterson told police.
She said she then chased Blair down a flight of stairs and on the first floor he grabbed her by the arm and pushed her into the door of a women’s restroom so hard that both of them momentarily stumbled into the restroom, the complaint cited by the Wisconsin State Journal states.
Blair later told police he’d used a blade on his multi-tool Swiss army knife to pop the balloon, the complaint states.
The incident happened shortly after a daily noontime “Solidarity Singalong” in the rotunda to protest a state law stripping most collective bargaining rights from many public workers. Red balloons have become common at the singalongs.
Blair has been placed on paid leave.