Remember the Solidarity Sing Along, the lunch-hour musical protest that has been held at the Wisconsin Capitol every weekday since March, 2011? Remember how the Walker Administration finally decided they couldn’t take even one more verse of “This Land is Your Land” and ordered the Capitol Police to start arresting peaceful singers?
They began by mailing citations to people, or dropping them off at people’s homes or work, but when that didn’t stop people from singing, they started arresting folks in the Capitol rotunda in July, 2013. They arrested octogenarians, military veterans, a couple of clergy members, minors, moms, dads, firefighters, and even a few people who were just watching the arrests. By the end of the summer they had issued hundreds of tickets to nearly 200 people. Most of those tickets are now tied up in the Dane County Court system after most of the recipients pleaded not guilty and demanded jury trials.
Remember? Sure you do. Those were fun times, and they always started with the Capitol Police playing the pre-recorded voice of the Police Chief over a military grade Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) declaring the Sing Along an unlawful assembly:
Fast forward to today. The Walker Administration was very proud to unveil OpenBook Wisconsin, an online database where citizens can see where the state spends its money. As the guv will tell you, he's all about transparency and open government, except when the John Doe investigators are on his ass, but that's another post.
The site was made public only one year behind schedule, which is pretty good by Walker’s standards, so naturally the first thing I wanted to know was how much the Capitol Police paid for the bullhorn on steroids they used to harass the peaceful singers exercising their First Amendment rights. Any guesses?
Only $4,995.00! I'm told that’s $1,000 off the manufacturer's suggested retail price!
That’s our governor. Always looking to save the taxpayers’ money. Sure, it cost a lot in police overtime to issue all those tickets, and they’re spending even more to have Assistant Attorneys General prosecute the glorified traffic tickets. And yes, an appeals court decision just came down that will allow the defendants’ attorneys to use civil discovery to uncover what are likely some very embarrassing documents regarding the crackdown. But let’s face it: that LRAD is a really cool toy! My guess is Walker spends hours playing with it after the capitol is closed, practicing his speech for when he accepts the Republican nomination for President of the United States. That is God’s plan, after all. Just ask him. Walker, that is. Ask Walker. Don’t ask God.
And now, please enjoy this video of the Village People. I dedicate this song to Wisconsin State Capitol Police Chief David Erwin:
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