My Gorgeous Tree: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

By Jeri Jafek Troia

This tree was strangling itself via its own root system. About five yrs ago I realized what was happening and hacked away at the girdling roots. At the time I knew that there were three possible prognoses… It would die from strangulation OR I would kill it from destroying the offending roots OR It would live. For the first three years after my desperate but necessary action, I held my breath for two weeks while I watched the other neighborhood trees’ buds appear, swell, and leaf out. It continues to take my breath away every spring when it proves it’s alive… and every October when it shows off.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

My Gorgeous Tree

You may have heard that Wisconsin’s governor and his party don’t like the FACT that the Wisconsin State Capitol building has STRONG PROTECTIONS for POLITICAL FREE SPEECH. Stronger than any other in the United States, and much stronger than the U.S. Capitol building. But GovernEr Walker has hired a new police chief, David Erwin. Erwin is doing his best to sweep all political speech (by average citizens) out of the building.

He began in September by handcuffing and ticketing citizens for holding “signs” in the building. It could be as little as a piece of printer paper with a heart drawn on it, or the words “Article 1 Sect 4” (the section of the Wisconsin Constitution that GUARANTEES… The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and petition their government or any department thereof shall NEVER BE ABRIDGED). People were warned for simply holding a blank sign. I personally was arrested for holding up a t-shirt advertising a blood drive.

After a judge wrote an opinion that holding signs in the Capitol building was NOT what the Admin Code truly was intended for, the Capitol Police stopped ticketing people for holding signs. I still have to go to court to fight it, though.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Since they caused a disabled veteran to collapse inside the Capitol as they ambushed her on her way out of the building on September 14, the Capitol Police don’t want to cause any “trouble” inside the building, so they ambush citizens either — outside on the Capitol grounds, at their HOMES, or by certified mail — with citations costing $200.50 WITHOUT EVEN WARNING THE CITIZENS they have done anything wrong. The tickets now state vague reasons like “obstructing passageways without a permit” for holding a banner that doesn’t even reach to the top of the pillar, or for other very un-dangerous activities that OBSTRUCT NOTHING.

Since early September, a total of 22 people have received 59 citations. The Capitol Police have taken to sending two citations at a time with different Admin Code numbers; one officer stated to one “lucky” recipient that they “give you two knowing that at least one will be dropped.”

Tuesday at the Capitol, it felt joyous, yet foreboding. Chief Erwin, your current tactics and overall strategy of “take out the leaders” (of a leaderless group of citizens) IS NOT WORKING. I suspect the “crackdown on protesters” will grow with virulence as we approach the election and the beginning of the January legislative session.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I feel like that now as I do my little part to fight for free speech at the Capitol. I don’t like the game they’re playing AND I don’t like that I am at risk for getting a $200.50 citation just for being there with like minded folks singing during the lunch hour BUT I know LOTS of SOMEBODIES MUST STAND UP.

Please stand up (and sing!) with us if you can. Just like the pickup basketball game that you can count on in some neighborhoods or in your private gym, you can count on the fact that there will be people to sing with every weekday from noon – 1pm at the Wisconsin State Capitol building. JOIN US, PLEASE.

As irritating as it might be to fight an arrest for holding up a t-shirt or singing over the non-work lunch hour at the Capitol — in a jury trial — I’ll do it.

OUR FREE SPEECH AND FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY RIGHTS DEPEND ON… us. Only us. We had to fight for them before. It’s sad that we have to continue to fight for them, but WE DO.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

There are several lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild ready to help at low cost, and in some cases, no cost.  Call (608) 520-0654 and visit http://nlgmadison.org for more information.

Here is how to donate to the legal defense fund to fight against Chief Erwin and GovernEr Walker’s crackdown against citizens practicing free speech and peaceful assembly in OUR Wisconsin State Capitol Building:

“Since 1997 the Legal Defense Fund, hosted by the Madison Infoshop, has been there to support those who have had their rights violated! Checks can be made to the Legal Defense Fund c/o Madison Infoshop, 1019 Williamson St. #B, Madison, WI 53703. Please put “Capitol Protest” in the memo line. Info? Call 608-262-9036 or visit http://madinfoshop.wordpress.com/.

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