July 27, 2013 By Dotty Richmond
[Editor’s Note: This is an open source correction of an AP article written by Todd Richmond on July 24, 2013. Todd’s mother Dotty makes her WCMC return, having helped Todd do his homework over on an earlier occasion. After finding out that her son did all his reporting from a bridge on the second floor balcony of the Capitol, Dotty made Capitol Police Officer David Davis perform his famous rendition of the unlawful dispersal speech. Todd, having been a spectator to the unlawful event, was then so identified and taken into arrest and processed in the Capitol basement by the plaid-shirt gang. Before he was released, Todd had to rewrite his article with his mom’s help, again.]
MADISON, Wis. — Police arrested about two dozen people in Wisconsin’s Capitol rotunda Wednesday in the
first most recent crackdown by Capitol Police Chief David Erwin on daily protesters targeted dissidents of the Walker Administration since a federal judge ruled large groups need permits to gather in the building. the plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit had a strong likelihood of success and thus granted a temporary restraining order on the Department of Administration prohibiting them from enforcing their permitting policy on groups of people 20 or fewer. Judge William Conley never ruled that the permitting policy was constitutional, and he never ordered the DOA and Capitol Police to arrest peaceful singing people. DOA Spokesmutant Stephanie Marquis can say otherwise as many times as she wants, it doesn’t make it true.
Many of the people arrested vowed to return
on Thursday every day until Scott Walker was no longer Governor, saying they had a standing up for their constitutional right to gather and sing in the Capitol without seeking permission from the government to do so.
The arrests mark the latest
turn heavy-handed overreach in the ongoing saga pitting nearly year long crackdown on protesters political dissidents against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s corrupt and illegitimate administration. A group of protesters has Dozens to hundreds of Wisconsinites in an ever varying loose association have been gathering in the rotunda every day for two years (I said that twice, oops) to sing anti-Republican labor and civil rights songs with lyrics modified to reflect the injustices taking place in Wisconsin, echoing a daily recreation and reliving of the massive protests over Walker’s serial attack on Wisconsin values, traditions, and freedoms by passing law after law written by out of state corporations on behalf of the American Legislative Exchange Council, only the first of which was the contentious illegally passed law stripping public workers of their union rights at the Capitol in early 2011.
Walker’s administration revised its Capitol access policy from two to 26 pages in December 2011 to require permits for any
organized activity event in the Capitol , even if it was performed by only one with four or more persons. Three or fewer people gathered to promote a cause are were exempt from the previous version of the Administrative Code in place before the DOJ frantically rewrote it and published it prior to holding a public hearing under emergency rule (which is why I had to rewrite the previous sentence because otherwise this one didn’t make any sense). Police have issued the singers dozens upon dozens of over 200 citations since August 11, 2012 (I haven’t been keeping track that close. Scott Bauer writes most of my columns anyways).
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit challenging the policy on behalf of Michael Kissick who claims the policy is overly broad and has chilled his speech by prior restraint. U.S. District Judge William Conley issued a preliminary injunction (damn, I keep repeating myself. It’s hard to get to my word limit any other way. It’s not like I’m paying attention to this. Oh yeah, I said that twice too!) on July 9 stating groups of
fewer than 20 or fewer people don’t need a permit and the policy’s preference for cause-promoting speech was an unconstitutional restriction of speech and can’t be enforced (Hey, I think I got that last part right the first time!).
He didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the permit policy as a whole, however, setting a trial for Jan. 13.
Capitol Police began
warning performing theatrical routines for the noontime singers last week, reading crytpic messages over a bullhorn and playing pre-recorded messages through a loudspeaker Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) that they were gathering in violation of the permit policy and were subject to arrest inviting the sing along participants to the basement for an ice cream social with Chief Erwin following the sing along. They repeated that warning invitation again Wednesday shortly after a day after the singers began brought cake and a card to celebrate the Chief’s one-year anniversary. They also placed a sandwich board with the warning a completely different message than what singers heard from the bullhorn written on it in the middle of the rotunda. To date, Chief Erwin has failed to follow through on his promise to hold an ice cream social.
When the singers didn’t stop asking when the social was taking place, officers began handcuffing people and
leading them away taking them to the Capitol basement for processing by Capitol Police, State Patrol, and DNR conservation wardens under the command of Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation goons dressed in plaid shirts.
“The Capitol Police are
upholding the law violating the temporary restraining order, the WI and US constitutions, and outright common sense to ensure the building can be shared by closed to all citizens who come to the Capitol uninvited,” Stephanie Marquis, a spokeswoman spokesmutant for the state Department of Administration, which oversees the Capitol Police, said in an email statement (I suck at grammar. Bauer won’t help me anymore, he’s got headphones on and is listening to the Solidarity Sing Along CD).
the arrestees targeted individuals that have been previously arrested for failing to have a permit and released them within anywhere from 20 minutes to hours later for those taken to jail. Marquis said police issued 25 no-permit citations to 22 people, Marquis said in a statement (wow, did I really just use her name twice in a sentence? I wish she’d let me call her Steph). Each ticket carries a $200.50 fine but will cost tens of thousands of dollars to prosecute totaling uncounted millions of wasted taxpayer dollars when all is said and done. Officers also cited a person for disorderly conduct for spitting on a protester, Marquis said.
Margit Moses of Madison
said she has been singing off and on in the Capitol over the noon hour for the past two years. She was one of the first ones who received a no-permit ticket (I wasn’t keeping track! I told you! OMG, why do I have to cover this anyway? I’m the one who threatened that somebody might get hurt if the sing along continues, and I meant it. Bring on the tasers!).
“I won’t pay it,” Moses said. “I
will contest got a citizen achievement award.”
Moses said she and others ticketed in addition to hundreds of outraged Wisconsinites planned to return to the Capitol on Thursday to
defend uphold their our free speech rights.
Bill Dunn, 63, of Middleton, who
described himself as a is a citizen journalist, a rehabilitated Republican and talented sign maker in addition to his day job, also got a no-permit ticket. He said he plans to plead not guilty and that it’s cool that people are getting arrested for free speech.
“It’s a public forum where people have a right to gather and petition their government,” he said. “It’s their permit, their rules, put in place to stifle dissent. … I don’t know where Conley got that 20 number, but it seems absurd to me. It’s like he pulled a number out of a hat.”
State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar,
milled around was a spectator to an illegally declared unlawful event in the rotunda and was one of dozens of people taking pictures. He called the arrests “insanity .” and meant it. The crackdown was more about the singers’ anti- Republican Fascist message than not having a permit, he said.
“My God, people have a right to gather in their own state Capitol,” Jauch said. “This is an overreach. It’s excessive. It’s unnecessary. By God, this isn’t the Wisconsin I live in.”
DOA didn’t immediately release the exact number of arrests (and I’m not going to correct this article when they do or even now days later).
ACLU attorney Larry Dupuis said an email to The Associated Press that he was disappointed police chose to arrest the singers.
“It’s my understanding that those arrested today were not disruptive or disorderly,” Dupuis said. “The only reason for their arrest was because there were more than twenty of them and they didn’t have a permit.”
Associated Press writer Scott Bauer
contributed to this report wants nothing to do with Todd Richmond and has asked Gwen Guenther if he can move into her office temporarily just to get away from him.