[Next week the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative begins collaborating with WORT FM 89.9 by airing a weekly two-minute commentary for the Insurgent Radio Kiosk, which airs four times throughout the day. Here is the text of our first commentary. – Editors]
Over the past year and a half people opposed to Scott Walker’s agenda for Wisconsin have been completely shut out of the formal legislative process. Their last avenue of dissent has been to petition government in the open public forum of the Capitol rotunda.
But with the appointment of a new Chief of Capitol Police this past July, even that space is becoming restricted.
In the past three weeks, the Capitol Police under Chief David Erwin have issued at least 34 tickets to 16 people for peacefully holding signs and banners, or for expressing the political views through song in the Capitol rotunda.
Some tickets were delivered to people at their homes. Some were delivered to people’s places of work. Some were mailed, and others were issued after the people holding signs were handcuffed and escorted by a group of eight officers to the Capitol Police station.
The crackdown reached a new low last week as two people who filed complaints against a Capitol Police officer for pushing them during the arrest of a disabled veteran were themselves cited for obstructing police and resisting arrest.
In theory, the mission of the Capitol Police is to protect and serve. In practice however, their efforts have served to intimidate and harass.
In addition to the citations:
– An ACLU observer at the Solidarity Sing Along was warned that she would be arrested if she continued to take down the badge numbers of officers patrolling and filming the group, and;
– A 74 year old woman walking out of the Capitol was threatened with arrest for carrying a bag full of song books. Officers accused her of being a leader of the unpermitted group.
Elected officials and professional law enforcement organizations have called on Chief Erwin and his boss Mike Huebsch, Secretary of Scott Walker’s Department of Administration, to respect the rights of people to free speech and assembly in the building and to cease their infringement upon these rights.
Chief Erwin, Mike Huebsch and Scott Walker have responded to these criticisms with fabricated stories about people’s safety being threatened, and outright lies about the behavior of activists. They have also made statements about restricting public access to the building should their law enforcement efforts fail.
Until that happens, people continue to sing their dissent every weekday from noon to 1pm in the rotunda.
For more stories on the Capitol crackdown, visit the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative website at wcmcoop.com.