Defend Feminists Makes Breakthrough by Exposing Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center

Last night, Thistle and nine brave Madison supporters, many having written letters to the Wil-Mar without getting a response, showed up to the monthly Wil-Mar board of directors meeting to hear the board explain the terms of the ban they have placed on Thistle performing on their stage.
The Wil-Mar board had communicated to Thistle that she would have five minutes to discuss matters related to the ban and the neighborhood center’s policy.
The first half of the five minutes were taken up by board president, Bob Hemauer, addressing Ms. Pettersen’s first question about why she is not allowed the opportunity to perform on Wil-Mar’s stage and how long this restriction will be in place.
Mr. Hemauer responded to the question by passing the buck to Wil-Mar staff saying that “the board are all volunteers and building use policy decisions are made by staff and we empower our staff to do their job.”
Ms. Pettersen then posed the same question to Wil-Mar Development Director, Beatrice Hadidian who responded by saying the ban will be lifted once Ms. Pettersen discontinues her “platform for hatred.”
After that, there was no more time for questions or discussion and Mr. Hemauer called the meeting agenda item done and moved on to introducing a new Wil-Mar staff, Rachel, to the board before asking Ms. Pettersen and her supporters to leave.
You can view video coverage of this event here and here. Ms. Pettersen’s written statement she gave to the board last night is below.  She also sent this statement to the board electronically asking for the Wil-Mar as an organization, whether by its staff or board of directors or both, to answer the questions by next month’s board meeting.
Thistle and the whole crew at Defend Feminists would like to thank the nine Madisonians who came out last night in a show of support not only for Thistle, but for democratic process in the Marquette neighborhood on the east side of Madison. You all are very brave to stand up to the bullying and silencing tactics employed in this situation! Bravo!

Statement for Wil-Mar Board of Directors August 29 2019

by Thistle Pettersen with a little help from her friends

Good evening. Thank you for putting me on your meeting’s agenda. I would like to thank all of my supporters for writing letters, signing the petition at and for being here this evening to bear witness at this event.

I am here because I have faith in the social health of our Madison community in publicly shared spaces. I believe that most of us want to be as inclusive as possible and that we, here in this neighborhood especially, care about truth-telling, problem solving, community building and social justice.

Democracy is predicated on the ability of citizens to speak our minds without fear of reprisal. We can and should discuss politics and ideologies. I trust that all of you agree that free expression and civil dialogue and discussion of the politics of the day in appropriate arenas such as a news program on WORT or at a women’s march or at universities and on college campuses is good for our democracy, and ultimately, for the health of our neighborhoods.

You don’t have to agree with me, but publicly ostracizing me and banning me for holding an opinion is just wrong. Although I disagree with transgender ideology, I have always, and continue to support civil rights for transgender individuals. One resident of Madison, Christine Elaine, led the campaign to get community members to communicate with the Wil-Mar to deny me the opportunity of playing with ESAE on Wil-Mar’s stage. This happened after weeks of rehearsals I attended playing songs unrelated to transgender politics. Are you aware that Dumpster Dick, Christine Elaine’s band, plays shows in our neighborhood at venues Thistle & Thorns, my band, were eligible to play before Christine’s bullying smear campaigns against me? Are you aware that one of DD’s songs is called TERF destroyer666? Does it concern you that feminists consider the term “TERF” to be a slur used to incite anger and violence against women and women’s free speech?

For the record, I have never tried to undermine the wage jobs of any members of Dumpster D**k, nor have I called them out on FB trying to get locals behind a smear campaign against them, nor have I sent any members of DD human feces in the mail, nor have I led campaigns to call venues where DD is playing to demand they blacklist this band, but all of these tactics have been used against me by members of our community here in Madison.

It seems that the Will-Mar has been caught up in this bullying campaign against me. So, I and my supporters, have some questions…

1. Why am I “not allowed the opportunity to perform on Wil-Mar’s stage” and how long has this policy been in place?

2. What needs to happen for the restrictions on me to be lifted? Is there an expiration date for the ban?

3. Why was there no “due process” before the ban was issued where I could have the chance to meet my accusers and defend myself from their accusations?

4. Are there any other performers banned from your stage? If so, what are the circumstances of those cases?

5. Are your board meeting minutes from previous meetings where you have discussed this issue available for public viewing? If so,     where?  What is the best way to be in touch with the Wil-Mar board about community concerns about space use at the center?

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