We’re Still Here

July 15, 2013  By Ryan Wherley

[What follows are written comments submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Administration as part of the public input process on the promulgation of emergency administrative rules. – Editors]

We're Still Here

On the afternoon of Friday, July 12th, citizens and Winter Soldiers of the great state of Wisconsin spoke truth to power in testimony before the powerful Wisconsin Department of Administration. The public hearing was required by law and pertained to the DoA’s promulgation of “emergency” rules and re-writing of state Administrative Code 2 (Adm 2) that took effect in April 2013 under the ridiculous guise of protecting public health, safety and welfare from peaceful protest.

The new rules were clearly designed with the goal of singling out and eliminating the resilient Solidarity Sing Along, which has taken place at the Capitol from noon until 1 p.m. every weekday since March 10th, 2011. These new rules were also clearly intended to chill the freedoms of speech, assembly and petitioning the government for a redress of grievances, by restricting access to the Capitol and silencing the voices of those opposed to the extremist and regressive regime of GovernEr Scott Walker.

Members of the public waiting to testify at the July 12, 2013 public hearing on DoA rules changes.

Members of the public waiting to testify at the July 12, 2013 public hearing on DoA rules changes.

I couldn’t attend the hearing to voice my opposition but I was greatly moved and inspired by the character, words and emotions expressed by those brave individuals who laid bare their hearts and souls during that hearing and who continue to show up to the Capitol daily to express and defend their First Amendment Rights for those of us who cannot. I’m honored to call them my brothers and sisters in the struggle. ♥

Since I couldn’t be there in person on the day of the hearing, I entered the Capitol around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 13th and recited this poem as my own public testimony against the abomination that is the DoA’s Crackdown on First Amendment Rights. I spoke my beliefs from the heart, in a place specifically designed for just this type of expression: the ground floor of the Capitol Rotunda.I wrote this as my contribution and will be submitting this to the Department of Administration as my official testimony on the “emergency” rules and changes to Adm 2. Solidarity and FOREVER FORWARD.

July 15th, 2013

To GovernEr Scott Walker, Secretary Mike Huebsch and the Wisconsin Department of Administration:

I submit this as my public testimony in staunch opposition to the promulgation of Emergency Rules for Adm 2, changes that restrict access to the Wisconsin State Capitol and restrict the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Our state motto is “FORWARD,” and I intend to peacefully continue doing everything within my power to keep us moving in that direction.

Wisconsin State Constitution, Article I, Section IV:

“The right of the people, peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”
“WE’RE STILL HERE”

Singers sharing their messages in song, sign and banner on February 13, 2013.

Singers sharing their messages in song, sign and banner on February 13, 2013.

You’ve lied and misrepresented our intentions,
You’ve tried to shut down acts of peaceful dissension,
You’ve downplayed our building’s historic dimensions so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

You whine and complain and so publicly grouse.
If you had your way, we’d be soft as a mouse.
But never forget this is the PEOPLE’S House so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

Your actions and words absolutely disgrace.
You’ve turned our state’s progress about on its face,
But without a fight we won’t give up this place so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

We stand for our rights, not for corporate design, so
You ticket, harass us, impugn and malign
For singing and being and holding a sign?? So

WE’RE STILL HERE.

With deaf ear and blind eye you spew condescension.
Divide and Conquer fosters nothing but tension
So please forgive me if I forgot to mention that

WE’RE STILL HERE.

Your social injustice, misogyny, greed,
Austerity stealing from our mouths to feed
Your hunger for wealth, not the poor’s DIRE need so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

You mean to throw all of us out on our asses,
Eschewing your scheme of permitted hall passes.
But we sing for truth, justice, freedom, the masses . . . so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

Scott Walker, Mike Huebsch, Erwin, Fitz, Robin Vos,
As fascist tools go, your crew ain’t at a loss.
You sold out your souls to the corporate boss so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

You’ve looted and pillaged for profit and plunder.
Your actions have torn our once great state asunder.
With all that you’ve done is it STILL any wonder that

WE’RE STILL HERE?

WE sing for our families, our neighbors, our friends.
YOU’RE justified neither in means nor in ends.
The arc of the moral universe portends so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

Our freedoms of speech, to assemble, petition,
You treat as if threatening acts of sedition.
Your overreach fuels us; a moral ignition so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

We peacefully testify daily through song.
We stand in defiance, our hearts do belong
With those come before us and future Gen strong so

WE’RE STILL HERE.

You shamefully claim that our acts terrorize.
The webs that you spin, built on nothing but lies.
Look out on Our House now, no need to surmise that

WE’RE STILL HERE.

If solace you find in your rules I implore,
You look under glass and you’ll find a bit more:
Our State Constitution, Article 1, Section 4.

WE’RE STILL HERE.

You’ve stolen our rights and you’ve left us no choice.
But I don’t want your yacht, I don’t want your Rolls Royce.
All I need is the one thing you can’t steal: MY VOICE!!

. . . so WE’RE STILL HERE!!

Ryan Wherley
Proud lifelong citizen of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin

Here’s the video of me reciting this poem in the Rotunda. Video courtesy of Joe Vittie:

Here’s video from the traditional singing of “Solidarity Forever” to close out the first indoor Solidarity Sing Along after the initiation of the Crackdown on First Amendment Rights inside of the Wisconsin State Capitol, September 7th, 2012.  This video followed two days of arrests where 11 citizens were arrested for quietly and peacefully holding signs, banners and t-shirts in the Rotunda.  Note the familiar chant that breaks out at the end of the song. Video courtesy of Michael Matheson.

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