After compromising Tuesday on a resolution to honor Black History Month, several Democratic lawmakers have asked to have their votes changed to a "no" in the Assembly record, despite initially passing the measure unanimously.
The compromise came after hours of disagreement on Tuesday between Republicans and Democrats — particularly the Legislative Black Caucus, which is composed of only Democrats — over whether to include former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a list of African-Americans being honored for having "made measurable differences in their respective industries."
Kaepernick who, during his NFL career protested racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem before games, was included in the resolution authored by the Legislative Black Caucus. But some Republicans objected to his inclusion and eventually, the resolution was amended to remove his name from a list that included Lucien H. Palmer, Wisconsin's first black legislator; Carolyn Stanford Taylor, Wisconsin's first black Superintendent of Public Instruction; Foundation for Black Women's Wellness founder Lisa Peyton-Caire and Beloit native and NFL coach Jim Caldwell.
Every Democrat in the Assembly voted against the amendment, but then voted in favor of passing the resolution as amended.
There are no black Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature.
Shortly after the vote, Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, said she had asked the Assembly chief clerk to change her vote. Several other Democrats followed suit and made the same request.
The changes will be noted, but according to Assembly rules, "the record produced by the voting machine or the chief clerk's tally is official and final" — so the official tally will remain unanimous.
In a statement Tuesday evening, Myers said she "could not in good conscience vote for a watered down version of what was introduced by the Legislative Black Caucus."
"For much of our existence in the United States, African Americans have had to ask for permission; I refuse to ask for permission when honoring those who have made significant contributions to the plight of African American people," Myers said. "The insistence that Colin Kaepernick’s name be removed from the black history month resolution was an exercise in white privilege and one that I cannot accept."
Shortly after Myers released her statement, Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, who is white, thanked Myers for being "an incredible leader" and said she would also change her vote. Others who have since changed their votes include Reps. Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa; Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit; Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire; and Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg.
"I think almost all of us are (changing our votes)," Anderson tweeted.
A spokesman for Black Caucus chairman Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the changes. Savion Castro, a spokesman for Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison, said Wednesday that all members of the Black Caucus changed their votes.
The state Senate is set to take up the resolution Wednesday afternoon. Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she plans to seek to reintroduce Kaepernick's name to the Senate resolution.
Also on Tuesday, Rep. Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, told reporters she was not responsible for a tweet sent from her account during the debate over Kaepernick, which read, "Colin Kapernick wore socks depicting police as pigs. Flags are flying at half-staff for a murdered policeman. Are you kidding me????" The tweet was deleted shortly after it was posted.
Dittrich said she "would never send out a tweet like that as a lawmaker." She told reporters the only person besides her with access to her account is her legislative aide, Keith Best.
Best drew fire in July for a tweet he sent from the account of his previous employer, former Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, calling voter ID opponents "the true racists."