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A disabled military veteran was ambushed by at least three Wisconsin Capitol Police on her way out of the Capitol this afternoon and placed in handcuffs. Her crime? She had the audacity to peacefully voice her opinion about the lack of free speech in the Capitol. Onlookers and other protesters assumed that Capitol Police had singled her out and were attempting to write her a citation for violating some improvised interpretation of the state’s administrative code.  In the past two weeks, Capitol Police have handed out about a dozen similar citations to peaceful citizens holding signs and banners in the Capitol.

vet 2
photo courtesy of Leslie Amsterdam

After being confronted by at least three uniformed male officers in a Capitol corridor as she and others were leaving, the woman who was targeted was handcuffed and almost immediately began experiencing cardiac symptoms, possibly related to a heart condition for which she takes medication. There was confusion at the scene as Capitol Police failed to answer questions from the victim’s friends about whether an ambulance had been summoned and failed to remove her handcuffs even after she slumped to the floor.

 photo courtesy of Leslie Amsterdam

They eventually released the handcuffs and gave her a dose of her medication. An elderly gentleman who moved toward her to assist as she started to lose consciousness was shoved back by officers and then pushed against a wall and arrested. The latest word is that he was taken to the Dane County jail.

Several people called 911 and eventually an ambulance arrived. The woman was taken to the local Veterans Administration hospital. She is reportedly feeling better. Charges against her have been dropped, or were never filed.

The veteran was part of a small group of people who had obtained a copy of the Capitol’s application for a facilities use permit and were reading parts of it aloud in the rotunda while marching in a circle. They mocked several provisions of the policy, including the fact that the pages of rules given to them by Capitol Police were numbered with only odd numbers. “Where’s page 6?” was one of the mocking chants, as was “Equality for even numbers!” The spontaneous, peaceful, and light-hearted rally lasted about 15 minutes. I’ve been told that just prior to that, this veteran had made a short speech in the rotunda opposing recent crackdowns on First Amendment rights in the Capitol.

One of the reasons the woman was leaving the Capitol was to be on time for an appointment already scheduled at the same VA hospital where she was taken by ambulance.

The incident was unrelated to the daily Solidarity Sing Along, which was held outside the Capitol today as it usually is on Fridays and finished without incident shortly before the events inside the building unfolded.

Presumably newly hired Capitol Police Chief David Erwin (who ordered the crackdown) and his Public Information Officer (who doesn’t return messages or release information, even to Democratic state legislators) are busy fashioning a statement alleging acts of terrorism, hooliganism, vandalism and a bunch of other “isms” against the hospitalized veteran, the elderly good Samaritan who sits in jail, and their friends. At this point it appears Chief Erwin will not stop his attempt to eliminate dissent even if it means killing someone.

In related news, Governor Scott Walker just declared Monday, September 17th as “Read the Constitution Day” in Wisconsin. He is a master of passive-aggressive propaganda, isn’t he?

5:13 PM PT: I've been told that the elderly man has been released from jail but I don't know if he was charged with anything.

Here is the predicted false version of events from the Department of Administration, released in a statement through their spokesperson Stephanie Marquis:

Today, singers were outside the Capitol during the noon hour and no citations were issued.

Approximately 1:00 p.m. this afternoon, Capitol Police observed a group who were marching, chanting and shouting in the  Capitol rotunda.  The Capitol Police received a noise complaint from workers inside the Capitol building regarding the extreme noise.  At approximately 2:00 p.m., the officers approached a female who was identified as the leader to cite her for disorderly conduct and no permit.  While the officers attempted to talk with the female, another member of the group interfered with the conversation.  The officers gave him a verbal warning, which he did not follow.  He was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct and also resisted arrest.  During the incident, the female had a medical emergency unrelated to the detention and was transported to a local hospital for medical attention.

There was not a permit requested or issued for any events this afternoon, with the exception of a Madison Teacher Union event at 5:00 p.m.

She was fine, then bullrushed by three or more large male officers and handcuffed, but her medical condition was not aggravated by any of that. It was just coincidence. 'scuse me while I turn down the volume on my bullshit detector.

You notice they didn't mention why after all this trouble they never charged her.

Originally posted to Giles Goat Boy on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 02:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group and Badger State Progressive.

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