(This is a re-post from the weekend with some minor editing.)
"Concealed Camera Day" is a response to recent arrests of peaceful activists who were quietly recording state Assembly proceedings from the visitors gallery. Others were arrested for pinning printed excerpts of the Wisconsin constitution on their shirts and sitting quietly in the gallery observing the proceedings on the Assembly floor. You can read some of my previous posts for more background, or go to the facebook page Shit Scott Walker is Doing to My State to find lots of links.
In response to these needless and illegal arrests, I invite each of you, in person or in solidarity, to join the action by accepting a facebook invitation for "Concealed Camera Day" in the Wisconsin assembly Gallery. The date is the same day Wisconsin's new concealed weapons law goes into effect - Tuesday, November 1st. Please accept even if you cannot attend in person. We want to have a big list of "attendees."
Starting Tuesday, November 1st, Wisconsin residents can apply for a permit to carry concealed weapons, and they can then carry those concealed weapons throughout most of the state Capitol building. Guns will soon be allowed in the Assembly gallery, but silently filming from the gallery will get you arrested. Weird, eh? The speaker of the Assembly, Jeff Fitzgerald, answered a few questions last week about the new rules. Here is a video from a citizen journalist. There are a few still shots, then video.
For those of you who can show up, here are a few things to know:
1. There is no central meeting place. Bring a camera, even if it's just your cell phone, (Or don't bring one and make them wonder) and visit the gallery to watch your government in action. That's it. You don't have to announce that you have a camera or show it to anyone. You can keep it in your purse or pocket the whole time.
2. The session is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. but it's expected that the representatives will go to closed caucus for a while very shortly after that. It would be best to get there after 3 p.m. when the gallery should be open to the public again. After that, they will probably be in session well into the evening, but there is no guarantee. Come when you can. If they reschedule or close up shop early, we are done.
3.The building is usually closed at 6 pm, but by law the doors must must be kept open whenever the legislature is conducting business. The Republican leaders have been illegally locking most of the doors in these situations. If you arrive after 6 pm, try the doors on the MLK Boulevard side of the building. That is the set of doors they usually keep open. Be persistent. Check all doors if you arrive after 6 and can't get in. If doors are locked and there are no signs indicating which doors are open, please document that with video and share on the "Concealed Camera Day" facebook page.
3. Some activists might choose to quietly record the proceedings, as is their first amendment right. They might be arrested. This is their choice, and is not required of you to be part of this action. If you do choose to film the proceedings or display signs, you too might be subject to arrest, citations, or jail, so you are more than welcome to simply be a silent observer. More than anything, we want to fill up the gallery with peaceful, quiet witnesses.
5. As I just said, this is a peaceful action. Remain quiet and do not disrupt the Assembly proceedings. This is not the day to yell "Shame" or anything else. You may stay as long or as briefly as you wish. Visitors can come and go from the gallery quietly at any time. If someone near you is being arrested, please move out of the way if directed by police. Do not express an opinion, do not engage in conversation, just find another seat and watch.
6. This is not a demonstration against the concealed carry law, it is an action meant to point out hypocrisy and to support the first amendment rights of those who have been arrested and jailed.
Again, please accept the invitation on facebook even if you can't show up. We want to make the actual number a surprise. It's an easy way to show some solidarity and it will cost you nothing. Thanks.
Jeff Fitzgerald lives in fear - fear of being watched, fear of being exposed, fear of having the world see the damage he and his accomplices are inflicting on Wisconsin's working families.