By Lady Forward and Jason Huberty
Last Friday, Jason Huberty, a free speech advocate and outspoken critic of Capitol Police Chief David Erwin’s two-month-long crackdown on dissent, took to chalking a message on the public sidewalk in front of the Capitol: “Wisconsin State Constitution, Article I, Sec 4, Freedom of Speech Shall Never Be Abridged.” Before he was finished, Huberty was approached by Capitol Police Sergeant Chris Weiss and asked to stop chalking.
Huberty complied long enough to inquire about the request.
Huberty: “Am I breaking a rule? Am I breaking a law? What about my activity is illegal, or drawing your attention to me, other than that you like my handwriting?”
There was no response from Sergeant Weiss.
Huberty: “I’d still like to know, Officer, is this a public sidewalk that I’m writing on? We don’t have a basis on which to apply our conduct to match your authority. I appreciate your authority, but what law am I breaking? Do you not know?”
In the background, the Solidarity Sing Along can be heard singing the chorus to “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
Weiss: “I’m curious. How many citations have we given you?”
Huberty: “That’s not relevant. I’m asking a question about this…. Sir, if you won’t answer that question, then please just tell me, is this a public sidewalk? Because I know my rights within a public sidewalk, and I believe I’m on a public sidewalk. So if you can inform me that I’m not, than that might change how I’m complying. I am honestly trying to comply with you. I would like information from you, and you’re not giving me that information. The information is, what law or rule am I breaking and is this a public sidewalk? Do I have to go in and find a detective or a media line to find that out? I should be able to get that from you. I’m asking you genuinely. I did what you asked me to do, and you can’t help me comply?”
Weiss shakes his head back and forth, but doesn’t respond.
Huberty: “So Officer, the questions to you are directed to you by the citizen to whom you addressed your questions. I am responding to you with a question to clarify your understanding of the situation to help me comply with you, to help me put my conduct within the law. So if you can provide me that context, I will respect and observe the request you made. If you cannot provide me that context, I don’t see that my conduct here is illegal, or breaking any rule or law.”
Weiss: “Obviously, you’re going to continue to do what you’re gonna do.”
Huberty: “I don’t know. It hasn’t happened yet. And I’m asking you questions, so, if you don’t want to talk to me, that’s your prerogative, but I’d think you’d want to inform me to help me comply with your request.”
Weiss: “You’ve been informed.”
Huberty: “I’ve been informed to stop, but not why…”
Weiss: “Have a good weekend.”
Weiss then turned and walked away. Huberty went back to his chalking.
Another view, from Huberty’s Head Cam.