A few dozen activists chalked the sidewalks outside the Wisconsin State Capitol Sunday afternoon after Steve Books, a Madison veteran and peace activist was arrested, handcuffed, cited and released Saturday for writing “This is Far from over” in chalk on the public sidewalk. The citation issued was for “other conduct prohibited” under Wisconsin Administrative Code 2.14 and carries a fine of $205.50. A court date has been set for late August. The veteran has been writing messages in chalk on the sidewalk near his giant wooden peace sign almost daily since the beginnings of the Wisconsin Uprising in March 2011. Capitol Police have not bothered this man previously, as he has been careful to chalk only on the public sidewalk, and not on any vertical masonry or stone of value or historical significance.
The festive, peaceful “Chalkupation” featuring chalk, bubbles, hula hoops and hopscotch was attended by a large diverse group who came together in a few hours after learning of the arrest of a man who served our country in the National Guard during the 1980’s and is active in the local chapter of Veterans for Peace. Chalk messages of support for the gentle activist as well as for Freedom of Speech quickly filled the cement around the famous Lady Forward statue and the sidewalks in both directions. One young man dragged a piece of chalk around the entire sidewalk perimeter while on his mobility device. People, intent on preserving their First Amendment rights, spent hours decorating the walks. Towards the end of the event, verbal warnings were issued to two activists for chalking on the street approach to the Capitol, however no citations were issued for any of the chalkings. The sidewalk art remained until early Monday morning when the grounds crew washed the messages away, only a faded red heart remained. Activists vowed to return and continue chalking as a response to the arrest and a few hours later, by Monday afternoon, the sidewalks were again covered in colorful greetings and statements, Hopscoth games, and Free Speech.