Sep 17, 2012

Capitol Police Arrest Woman for Carrying Book and Talking with Friend as Police Targeting of Political Movement Continues

Capitol Police deny liberty of Wisconsin citizen
Photo credit: Leslie Amsterdam
Update: Capitol Police Chief David Erwin ... is "a complete walking joke." Ludicrous, yes; but a corrupt cop is always a clear and present danger to the public.

Wisconsin has a problem. No, Wisconsin has an outrage. The GOP's strategy with the complicity of the corrupt Capitol Chief David Erwin appears to be 'turning the magnificent public space of out capitol into a closed and closely controlled place of business for corporations, their lobbyists and their bought and paid for Supreme Court, Governor and Republican legislature
.' (Kemble)
Sure, part of the problem is a lawless governor and the Dept. of Administration (DOA) Secretary Mike Huebsch.

Another problem is a corrupt cop, Capitol Chief David Erwin, who feels entitled to threaten journalists. See Isthmus staff taking photos of Wisconsin Capitol police are threatened with 'obstruction.'

Citizens protesting, we know they're fair game to Erwin.

It's worse.

Erwin is actually sending his troops out to citizens' homes and places of work to intimidate citizens, so dedicated is he to his project of targeting a lawful political movement.

And last Friday, a woman, a military veteran, and her friend went to their capitol to protest the sleazy politicians on the take from billionaires.

For this they accordingly constitute what Capitol Chief David Erwin described as a "chaotic" situation in an interview with WKOW.

While walking through the capitol, the pair was surrounded and assaulted by capitol police, acting on the orders of Erwin, the DOA and ultimately Scott Walker.

WTDY reports: "The woman, who is a veteran, was rushed by ambulance to the veteran's hospital. No word on her condition. Her companion was detained by police to be processed in the Capitol basement."

What if this woman—who has a heart condition—were to have died after the Capitol police assault?

And what is the cause for this random arrest?

John Peterson, and WTDY have the story. Rebecca Kemble at The Progressive offers a more comprehensive treatment.

Let's hope civil liberties law suits are filed to halt Erwin from his lawless action that has now veered past denying liberty (bad enough) into physically endangering the health of Wisconsin citizens.

Lisa Wells received a home visit from the
Capitol Police with these two citations.
Photo by Rebecca Kemble
The actions of Erwin ought be challenged again and again with massive protests and innovative political action.

The rule of law and the rights enshrined in the Wisconsin Constitution are not suggestions for Scott Walker and Erwin to follow only if they feel inclined. But we do have precisely this situation.

Wisconsin Constitution, Article One, damn the permits, full speed ahead.

The great jurist, Louis Dembitz Brandeis (1856-1941), wrote, "If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."

We do have respectable law and a model Constitution. But as a law enforcement official, Erwin is a disgrace.

If Walker and Erwin think their thuggery will stop Wisconsin citizens from exercising their rights to challenge the crooks at the capitol, they are as misinformed about the Wisconsin movement as they are about the guarantees of liberty of which we are vested.

The temptation to borrow from Justice Brandeis is irresistible. To conclude: "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."

Without understanding. This describes Erwin perfectly, one would think. Scott Walker on the other hand we know is duplicitous.

Closer examination, however, reveals ignorance is not a refuge for Erwin. Consider Rebecca Kemble's reports for The Progressive magazine.

Writes Kemble.

Since making his first public comments in the press in August after being named Chief this summer, Erwin has waged a two-pronged assault on political dissent and free speech in Wisconsin’s Capitol

The first part of his strategy is to carefully craft a narrative of chaos, disorder and fear. He describes the people who feel their voice is not heard in state government under the Scott Walker regime who use the rotunda as a public place to air their grievances as rowdy, noisy protesters who disrupt the business of the people who work in the building.

In tightly controlled appearances in a few selected media outlets, Erwin reproduces unverified stories of legislative staffers being harassed by citizens coming into their offices asking them questions aggressively, and young children being afraid of the loud singing that takes place every day at noon in the rotunda.

Erwin has given long interviews to rightwing public relations outfits Wisconsin Reporter and the MacIver Institute, as well as to Wisconsin Eye. In each of these he claims that he is a non-partisan public employee who respects everybody’s right to free speech. But in an interview with WKOW he said, “There is a time and place for free speech, and we reserve the right to regulate that a little bit.”

In the interview with Wisconsin Reporter that was published on Monday this week, a day before the 11th anniversary of the bombing of the world trade center and the Pentagon, Erwin said, “And so we have a group of people that come here, and last week they were holding signs and they are part of this group that, for lack of a better word, are terrorizing people at this Capitol.”

It is easy for Erwin to make these kinds of inflammatory, unsubstantiated statements to a rightwing publication who will never challenge him on the veracity of the statement. But when he does not make himself available for questions to a broader range of journalists and when his public statements are so few and far between, it’s easy for these lies to take on a life of their own, be picked up by other news agencies as truth.

The second part of the strategy is to harass and intimidate people by issuing citations to people for administrative code violations that the arresting officers do not seem to understand and cannot explain. They have also begun to step up their visible presence at the daily noontime Solidarity Sing Along. In addition to taking notes, now there are one or two officers walking around the building videotaping every person in attendance.

In a strongly-worded letter to Mike Huebsch, Secretary of the Department of Administration, a group of Dane County state legislators strongly objected to the recent arrests saying, “The Capitol police’s response to individuals peacefully protesting is now verging on ridiculous.” They called on Secretary Huebsch to meet with them after his assistant Wendy Coomer and Chief Erwin walked out of a meeting with Rep. Chris Taylor the week before.

It is difficult to understand where this so-called law enforcement strategy is heading, since it seems to be generating more negative publicity for the Capitol police than for the citizens who are asserting their constitutional rights. In his interview with the MacIver Institute, Erwin said that if his law enforcement efforts failed, he would have to consider restricting public access to the building.

This is something his boss Mike Huebsch has wanted to do since the historic protests erupted a year and a half ago. However, in March 2011, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Albert ordered the building be as open and accessible to the public as it had been prior to the uprising. Perhaps the strategy is to intentionally fail so they can justify turning the magnificent public space into a closed and closely controlled place of business for corporations, their lobbyists and their bought and paid for Supreme Court, Governor and Republican legislature.

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