He’s making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice….
The Holidays are here, and Capitol police officers are invoking the spirit of Senator Joe McCarthy by compiling a list of regular attendees of the Solidarity Sing Along, the weekday noon hour singing protest at the Wisconsin Capitol. Police appear to be checking names off on a spreadsheet that lists certain regular visitors to the Capitol, many of whom have received citations during the Capitol Crackdown that began after the arrival of new Capitol Police Chief David Erwin last summer.
“McCarthyism” is the term that describes the hunt for Communists in the United States in the 1950s, and it appears to be alive and well in Wisconsin several decades later, as citizens who sing at the Capitol over the noon hour are targeted, identified, watched and documented.
While Senator McCarthy’s “list” proved to be a worthless piece of paper that resulted in no real evidence of communism, the lists compiled by the Capitol police actually exist and are being used to track citizens’ political activism associated with exercising their First Amendment rights.
Twenty of the forty-three singers on the attendance list have received citations as indicated by gold stars on the list below. One name appears to be an alias and is listed as aka, also known as. Other names do not have dates of birth suggesting the individual has not yet been identified. Two names could not be identified at present, and two last names are misspelled.
WCMC has identified twenty regular to semi-regular singers with last names A-P who do not appear on the list.
People who were mailed citations also received letters from the Capitol Police informing them that they had been identified by security camera footage as being in attendance. It is possible these IDs are being made by use of facial recognition software and comparison to DMV license photos. DMV records have been included in the police reports.
This list-making appears to be part of Capitol Police Chief David Erwin’s latest strategy for crushing political dissent in the Capitol. Since assuming office in July, Erwin has tried a series of measures aimed at ridding the Capitol of dissenting citizens whose continued presence annoys Republican legislators and confuses the embedded press.
These measures, ranging from shows of force by Capitol Police in newly militarized uniforms, to mass citations and targeting of perceived leaders, have proved ineffective.
Even the Department of Justice, recruited by Erwin and Walker to prosecute dissent, has begun to drop charges rather than defend Erwin’s actions in jury trials. Erwin has not backed down, but continues to experiment with new ways of enforcing a policy of dubious legality.
Capitol police have insisted that they will stop issuing citations if the Solidarity Sing Along participants get a permit for their activities. The singers maintain their constitutional right to peaceably assemble guarantees them the right to gather without the need for a permit.
Activists are responding with their own lists and information gathering and taking their citations for singing in the Capitol and chalking on public sidewalks to jury trials to challenge the issuance of citations and threats to charge for “clean-up costs”. Citizens are intent on keeping the Capitol the public forum it was designed to be, a free and open environment for political discourse and petitioning the government. “McCarthy once tried and he failed” is one of the references to McCarthyism in the Solidarity Sing Along’s vast repertoire of custom lyrics. Will the current Anti-Free Speech crusade be successful where McCarthyism failed?
All images Copyright Leslie Peterson 2012 All Rights Reserved