What Happened to the Capitol Crackdown?

The 100th and 101st citations in the Capitol Crackdown were issued unceremoniously on November 15th. Like so many others, they were sent by certified mail, in this case one week after the alleged violation took place. A third citation was issued in person on November 8th.

That makes 3 citations (to date) for November, 39 for October, 59 for September, and 1 for August.

What happened to the Capitol Crackdown?

There was no press release from Capitol Police saying they had received a permit for the Solidarity Sing Along, and the Sing Along took place from Noon to 1 pm as it has over 500 times every single weekday since March 11, 2011.

Rather, the tactic of delivery by mail after the fact means other citations may still be on the way. While we await the official November tally, let’s take a look at what happened in October.

Photos courtesy Lisa Wells, Leslie Amsterdam, Rebecca Kemble, Callen Harty, and Dawn Henke.

In October 2012, the Capitol Police issued 39 citations to 25 citizens for exercising their rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. A timeline for September 2012 can be found here.

Photos of the people cited are shown within frames color coded to the citation type. Citations were issued under the Wisconsin Administrative Code for 2.07(2) unlawful display of sign, 2.14(2)(k) disorderly conduct, and 2.14(2)(v) obstruct access passage etc. – no permit, and under the Wisconsin State Statutes for 946.41 obstructing and 947.01 disorderly conduct.

While hundreds of people participated in the Solidarity Sing Along and thousands more visited the State Capitol in October, only these 25 citizens were issued citations.

Unlike the previous month, citations were issued more regularly in October, almost on a daily basis. These citations were given to the perceived leaders of the Solidarity Sing Along, people who conducted or made announcements during the sing along.

On October 25th, 29th, and 31st, six to eight citations were issued each day. Ten people were issued their first citation of the crackdown, nine of them their first citation ever. None were given any verbal warning by, nor had any prior contact with the Capitol police for these violations. The citations were issued by certified mail.

Two people cited at the end of the month were not even participants, in an active sense, of the event. One person observed the sing along, raising his fist for a single song but not singing at all. Another person took pictures of the event but did not sing either. Both received the same citation for “no permit” along with an application for a permit.

By comparing the months of September and October, other patterns can be seen.

The pie charts in the left column show the frequency of citation issued per day of the week. In general, the Solidarity Sing Along meets outside of the Capitol on Fridays, thus negating the chance for citations that day. In October, there were no citations issued on Fridays. In September, a spontaneous demonstration inside the Capitol following the sing along resulted in 18 citations.

Wednesday seems to be the most likely day to get a citation and accounts for a third of the citations in October. The total number of citations used in making these charts (97) is still small relative to a larger number (1000) that would allow for better analysis. However, the statistical probability that the increased odds of getting a citation on Wednesday is due to random chance is 1 in 10.

The pie charts in the right column show the frequency of citation issued per citation type. Two things are immediately apparent. First, 90% of the citations issued in October were for the same violation of Administrative Code 2.14(2)(v) “no permit.” In September, many of the “no permit” citations were given to persons holding banners who also received citations for violating Administrative Code 2.08(1) “holding signs over railings – prohibited.” Second, zero citations for 2.08(1) were issued in October, even though sing along participants continued to hold signs and banners over the balustrade of the first and second floors of the Capitol Rotunda.

Capitol Police Chief David Erwin began his constitutional rights rollback on August 11th, when he personally had Steve Books, a local peace activist, issued a citation for writing “This is far from over” with chalk on the public sidewalk outside the Capitol. To date, 101 citations have been issued in 105 days, just under 1 citation per day. One might call it a quota.

The odds of any one person getting a citation on a single day are about 0.2%. For Brandon Barwick, the most cited person during the current crackdown (14 tickets), the odds are 23%, or 1000 times higher.

Almost all of the 36 people issued citations have requested jury trials.

Steve Books will be going to trial on January 8th and is represented by Lester Pines, the subject of a recent profile here.

Jason Huberty will be going to trial on January 23rd for four citations issued September 5th, 6th, and 10th, and is represented by Bob Jambois and Patricia Hammel. Jambois was Kenosha County District Attorney for 10 years and has handled over 300 jury trials including high profile cases like the Jensen murder trial and more recently the Act 10 lawsuit. Jambois has offered to defend every Capitol Citation case and take them all to jury trial. Per an agreement with Erwin, DOJ attorneys general are prosecuting these citations in Dane County Court. More than 40 jury trials are likely to follow in the coming months.

The costs of the Capitol crackdown are not known but are surely high and are a huge waste of taxpayer dollars.

Lately there have been 10 or more Capitol Police officers watching 30 to 60 peaceful singers on a daily basis. The Department of Justice and Department of Administration are spending immense amounts of time and money on this crackdown. The citizen free speech rights activists are also facing court costs to request jury trials and retainer agreements for lawyers’ costs.

A First Amendment Protection Fund has been set up to help defray these expenses. If you would like to donate, please go to paypal.com and put in the email address protectwi@gmail.com. All funds go to help pay for jury fees and trial costs.

Free speech activists and supporters following initial appearances for 20 people and 25 tickets on November 16th. Photo courtesy Leslie Amsterdam.

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One Comment on “What Happened to the Capitol Crackdown?”

  1. Thomas Ray Worley November 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    If Brandon had a 23% chance each time of getting a ticket, with 14 tickets, he attended about 61 times (= 14 tickets / .23 ticket per singing day). If an average of 45 singers attended 61 times, getting 101 tickets, the average person (including Brandon) had about a 4% chance of getting a ticket (101 tickets / [45 singers * 61 days]), or about one-sixth of Brandon’s risk. Excluding Brandon, 87 tickets / [45 singers * 61 days] is about a 3% risk for the average person each time, about one-seventh Brandon’s. But that’s just the average. They have targeted those they consider leaders. Those of us who don’t show leadership haven’t received any tickets–Brandon’s risk infinitely higher.

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