A man who regularly visits the Wisconsin Capitol building to quietly hold politically-themed signs was given two citations this morning for allegedly holding a banner over a Capitol rotunda railing yesterday. To be accurate, the citations were delivered to the man’s supervisor at his job, in an apparent attempt to intimidate or embarrass him into ending his peaceful political actions.
Here is an interview with the man. It is being conducted by the administrator of the facebook page “Shit Scott Walker is Doing to My State”:
The actions of the Capitol Police came after three other citizens were given citations yesterday, two of them at their home and one while walking through the Capitol at the end of the work day. Twelve citations were issued last week for holding signs after new Capitol Police Chief David Erwin vowed to crack down on political dissent inside the Capitol.
More than 140 people came to the Capitol over the noon hour today to sing traditional pro-labor and social justice songs and to protest the bullying behavior of Governor Scott Walker's Capitol Police minions.
The Madison chapter of the National Lawyers Guild issued a press release today decrying the arbitrary and selective enforcement of Capitol rules.
• FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Patricia K. Hammel, firstname.lastname@example.org, (608) 279-4136 William B. Turner, email@example.com, 404-695-6081
The Madison, Wisconsin chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild (NLG) condemns the Capitol Police’s continuing arrests of citizens at the Wisconsin State Capitol. After the rule used by police to arrest people last week was interpreted not to include holding signs in a circuit court case, police today cited protesters for draping banners over railings inside the capitol rotunda and holding an illegal rally without a permit, although these activities have been going on for months without incident. It has become impossible to tell what conduct is allowed or prohibited in the Capitol Rotunda, and repeated arrests of select individuals are designed to stifle dissent against state policies, say Guild members.
Despite the presence of the usual contingent of Capitol Police at the Capitol on Friday, September 07, 2012, they arrested no one during the daily Solidarity Singalong, which is plainly not a “spontaneous event” that would be exempt from the new Capitol Access Policy, and involved well over four people, the minimum number required for a “rally” under the Policy.
“Capitol Police have been choosing on a “case by case basis” whom they arrest and when, which is troubling, because that often leads to selective law enforcement, as we see in this instance, and makes it difficult for people to comply with rules that are unclear,” said Patricia Hammel, a member of the NLG representing several people charged with rules violations.
“Arbitrary police conduct clearly contravenes basic principles of American government under our Constitution. The police have a responsibility to act consistently according to well defined, publicly available rules that the public has the opportunity to conform their conduct to in order to avoid arrest. The Capitol Police arrest citizens for holding signs inside the Capitol one day, but not the next. Which is it?” wondered William B. Turner, anther NLG member representing others charged last week.