Showing posts with label free speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free speech. Show all posts

Oct 8, 2013

Scott Walker's Regime Drops Capitol Permitting Policy

From the ACLU of Wisconsin:

MADISON — The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin today announced a settlement in its federal lawsuit against the state Department of Administration concerning free speech at the Capitol.

As part of the settlement, the state must create a notice system, which allows groups to gather inside the Capitol without a permit.

“This is a victory because giving notice is significantly different from forcing people to ask the government for permission to exercise free speech,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Giving notice is very informal. The state can’t deny use of the Capitol to anyone giving notice, unless someone else has reserved the entire space by obtaining a permit for the same time.”

Under the former permitting rules, which the state adopted in November 2011, groups as small as four were forced to obtain prior permission from the government before engaging in expression “for the purpose of actively promoting any cause” inside the Capitol, a public building.

The new rules also prohibited people from gathering in the Capitol for any performance, ceremony, presentation, meeting or rally without a permit.

The ACLU of Wisconsin lawsuit, filed in February in U.S. District Court, charged that the state violated the First Amendment by requiring permits for demonstrations held inside the Capitol and by punishing protesters who gather there without a permit.

The ACLU of Wisconsin and Madison attorney A. Steven Porter brought the suit on behalf of Michael Kissick, an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. In the past Kissick sometimes participated in demonstrations inside the Capitol, including the Solidarity Sing Along.

Kissick ceased exercising his First Amendment rights inside the Capitol in September 2012, when police began arresting and citing people who exercised free speech there without a permit. In July, U.S. District Judge William M. Conley ordered the state to stop enforcing the permit rules for small groups. Last month, Magistrate Judge Peter Oppeneer held a mediation session between the parties, resulting in the settlement.

“I’m happy because this agreement allows the Solidarity Sing Along to continue as it always has,” Kissick said. “The group has effectively been giving the state notice all along, and has always deferred to events with permits.”

As part of the settlement, a person may give the DOA notice of a gathering of 12 or more people by phone, email, in person, or via a form supplied by the state. Notice must be given at least two business days and not more than 10 business days before an event.

Individuals and groups may also give notice for consecutive events, and there is no limit on how many notices an individual or group may provide.

“There isn’t any question that the old permitting system was unconstitutional,” said legal director Dupuis. “This settlement halts the state’s unwarranted punishment of individuals who gather inside the Capitol to exercise their free speech rights.”

Aug 30, 2013

Damon Terrell and Scott Walker's Political Police

Damon Terrell released after 72 hours for an unspecified thought crime
Update II: Damon Terrell Wins Case Against Scott Walker’s Cops; Civil Suit Coming (Kemble. The Progressive)

Update - Wisconsin Capitol Police have the credibility of Richard Nixon during the depths of Watergate. After Capitol Police attacked and arrested Damon Terrell, James Brooks writes in the police report that, "I observed Damon taking photographs in the rotunda area. I made verbal contact with Damon and told him I had identified him as a participant in an unlawful event. I told him he needed to disperse. Damon said he was doing nothing unlawful and would not leave. ... I did not consent to Damon injuring me." Brooks is serious. That's another citation thrown out of Court, and let's hope a violation of civil rights action. Love to see someone as full of shit as Brooks on the stand.

"The vitality of civil and political institutions in our society depends on free discussion. ... Accordingly a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, 315 U.S. at pages 571—572, 62 S.Ct. at page 769, 86 L.Ed. 1031, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to roduce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest."
- Justice William O' Douglas, writing for the Court in TERMINIELLO v. CITY OF CHICAGO. 337 U.S. 1 (69 S.Ct. 894, 93 L.Ed. 1131) Argued: Feb. 1, 1949. Decided: May 16, 1949.

"This Court has gone far toward accepting the doctrine that civil liberty means the removal of all restraints from these crowds and that all local attempts to maintain order are impairments of the liberty of the citizen. The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."
- Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing in dissent in TERMINIELLO v. CITY OF CHICAGO. 337 U.S. 1 (69 S.Ct. 894, 93 L.Ed. 1131) Argued: Feb. 1, 1949. Decided: May 16, 1949.

It's necessary to note that Justice Jackson had returned from Nuremberg in 1946, and heard Terminello, just two years home.

Justice Jackson could not have been more fallacious in his reasoning in Terminello. Yet, typical of Jackson when he was wrong, he was thoughtfully wrong.

Damon Terrell, a protester in Madison, Wisconsin, who one hopes will pursue a federal civil rights action is in no danger of ever encountering a Justice Jackson or a Justice Douglas in the United States federal court system.

And Mr. Terrell won't do terribly better in the Wisconsin legislature.

"Activists now speculate that the Capitol Police use of force in arrests may be a deliberate attempt to provoke a violent reaction for a public disturbed by the sight of mass arrests for peaceful protests," notes Blue Cheddar. Viewing the linked above video, one would think Walker's cops would have to hang a rope around Damon Terrell's neck and throw him from the first floor balcony of the capitol rotunda before Democratic aides and Representatives decided to have a look around and mutter a word of objection for violation of freedoms and basic human decency.

Aug 27, 2013

Chief Couper: The Way Things Ought to Be

By Daivd Couper—Watch the video below and then take note of one very important thing: the officers have their helmets attached to their belts and NOT on their heads.

When police "suit up" too fast... take physical action too soon, it often lead to irreversible trouble.

This has profound implications on handling public protest, sporting events, and even "sing-alongs" in the Wisconsin State Capitol building.

I'd hire these officers any day. They get it!'
As Wisconsin citizens try to cool down the militarized Scott Walker police, how about the Capitol cops take a minute and have a look?

Aug 19, 2013

Why Folks Sing in the Wisconsin Capitol

If we ever put the constitutional rights to freely assemble and freely express political views to referendum, it would likely fail.

Below are shots from today in the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin demonstrating why citizens express their views anyway.

It has to with commitment in the face of malice and lassitude.

Firefighter Ted Higgins arrested
Firefighter Ted Higgins with citation Photo Rob Ganson

And the new GOP rule at the capitol is now aimed at collective word-holding. See picture below. Walker and David Erwin are working hard to make themselves look more ridiculous each day.

A large "UNINTIMIDATED" sign made of block letters greeted spectators. Capitol Police
Chief Erwin didn't like that speech. Walker and Erwin's cops arrested six of the letter holders,
specifically targeting the speech an explicit action against specific political speech.

Apr 12, 2013

Scott Walker Signs 'Emergency' Rules to Stop Singing and 'Hazards'

Local Broadcast Madison Television Maintains Blackout of Footage of Police Citing Citizens for Singing or Holding a Piece of Paper 

Update: See One Day Longer, 25 Months Stronger: the Solidarity Sing Along Draws Hope from the Next Generation.

Scott Walker continues his quest to stop Wisconsin citizens' open display of disagreement with Scott Walker's policies on the state capitol building grounds.

In a new development, Walker has signed "emergency" rules that "say that any person who refuses to remove or correct 'any hazardous situation' at the request of any department [Department of Administration] employee will be subject to citation, and lists hazards such as 'displays, decorations, signs, banners or the like.'" (Spicuzza. Wisconsin State Journal)

Next week, "a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Walker administration over the citations is scheduled to have a hearing in federal court," notes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (Stein)

The Walker administration has remained silent in the face of requests to disclose who initiated the new crackdown, and the new emergency rules against protesters and why.

Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) held a press conference yesterday in which Taylor said, "I was denied any correspondence I've requested between the Department of Administration and the Capitol Police. These are public documents that we have a right to see, that we have a right to know about and this administration is refusing to provide that information."

Legal observers see the Walker crackdown against those opposing his policies as unconstitutional.

Several times in the past two years, Walker and his Department of Administration Secretary Huebsch were ordered by judges to open the capitol that Walker ordered closed.

Walker and the capitol police have since Walker (in his words) "dropped the bomb" on Wisconsin in his surprise attack on the right of workers to unionize, at times turned the state capitol into what State Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) said in 2011 was an "armed fortress."

The Capitol Police chief appointed by the Walker administration, Dave Erwin, has walked out of a meeting with state legislators in the past after being asked for the specifics of his policy and how he intends to protect the rights of Wisconsin citizens.

From September 2012 in which Erwin continued his harassment of Wisconsin citizens speaking and singing against Scott Walker:

Jan 26, 2013

Wisconsin GOP: Cracking down on Wisconsin citizens

Will Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Walker's disgraceful political hit-man Chief David Erwin and the Republican Party succeed in suppressing citizens' popular will at the Wisconsin state capitol?

A lot of bystanders around.

And the Wisconsin Democratic Party has since before the Recall refused to speak out for the rights of citizens attacked (literally) practicing their constitutional rights.

In Wisconsin, citizen groups and pissed-off lawyers are responsible for ensuring the rights of Wisconsin citizens.

The state Democratic Party has taken a pass, and continues to do so.

Sep 18, 2012

Blue Courage Needed at Madison, Wisconsin Capitol

Blue Courage

Update: See Madison Police Chief David C. Couper's (ret.) Piece,  “Blue Courage” — Coming to a Police Station Near You?

Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief, David Erwin, please take note of Blue Courage.

The rights of Wisconsin citizens are sacred. And you have an equally sacred duty to protect these rights.

Your actions are faltering. You do not serve a corrupt governor and his minions.

Your calling, when you took your oath, is much higher.

You're a Marine as well; and damn well know better.

Please consider attending a Blue Courage workshop; at the least I'd wager you would walk away feeling you met some extraordinary people.

I think your policing the People's House would change, radically, as a direct result.

"Blue Courage is a way of being, a philosophy that inspires one to embody the noblest of character and unquestioned devotion. It is to flourish in all aspects of life, to act with practical wisdom, to exude vitality, and to hearten human connections."

Blue Courage is a transformational two day leadership development workshop designed for all levels of the organization. This revolutionary educational process is designed to touch hearts, awaken minds and ignite spirits through dynamic presentations and learning processes. If your interest is self-improvement, increased engagement, stress-management, developing resilience, igniting culture change, combating cynicism, while improving overall health and well-being, then Blue Courage is waiting for you to answer the call!"

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.

Sep 16, 2012

It's Not Just Walker and the DOA; Chief Erwin Is Out of Line

David M. Erwin
Chief of Police
Wisconsin Capitol Police

Update: It's 2013 and Erwin is still sending out three police officers, with two squads, to people's houses for the charge of having sung a song at the state capitol; and then named another song. Erwin is a disgrace and a hack for Scott Walker. Sarah Jones has the story.
Capitol Police Chief David Erwin is a problem, and being silent and averting our gaze towards Scott Walker is no solution, as our friend John Nichols has advised.

"Our men and women of the [Capitol Police] Department serve not only as police officers but as ambassadors at the seat of Wisconsin's government," writes Chief Erwin on the Capitol website. "... Please contact us if there is any matter with which we may assist you."

Ambassadors? Let's put that aside. There are matters pertaining to your conduct as Chief at our Capitol that require your personal assistance and a conversation.

Chief Erwin, time for a public Q and A, or a private chat with me, if your inclination and time permit. I can be reached at:

Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief
Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption
and the Seven Necessary Steps to
Improve Our Nation’s Police - David Couper

It's well past the time you revisit that oath you swore as a U.S. Marine and consider its relevancy to your actions as Chief.

In advance of a meeting, please consider looking up former Madison Police Chief (and now Episcopal priest), David Couper (1972-1993), and author of a new book on policing.

By Giles Goat Boy at Daily Kos

In the past three weeks, a number of Wisconsin Kossacks, including me, have been documenting the abuses being perpetrated by Wisconsin Capitol Police officers upon peaceful citizens protesting in the state Capitol. Those abuses have been orchestrated by the new Capitol Police Chief, David Erwin. Chief Erwin has also launched a media attack against those same peaceful protesters alleging all kinds of wild behavior.

On September 10th, he suggested that sign-holders and singers have been "terrorizing" staffers, legislators, and visitors, without giving any specifics. His officers have made dozens of arrests of "regular protesters" in the past few weeks, none of them for anything other than holding signs, draping banners over the rotunda, and failing to get a permit to sing If I Had a Hammer inside the building. You would think with all this terrorism and intimidation going on, we would have seen people arrested for something serious. Instead, people are being charged with violating obscure sections of the administrative code dealing with hazardous materials and heavy machinery left in the hallway.

The chief even said that people holding signs hurled insults at Red Cross volunteers at a blood drive being held on the opposite side of the rotunda one day. I didn't see anything like that while I was there but surely, with all the cops and video cameras they had swarming around the protesters that day, they arrested someone for that, right? That seems like a fairly straightforward violation, right? Easy to prosecute, got it all on video. Instead,they arrested people for holding up T-shirts they had received from Muslims for Life, an organization that encourages blood donations that had a display next to the blood drive that day. If he weren't a Chief, I'd swear he made the whole thing up.

So you might be asking why? What's the Chief trying to accomplish? Here's my theory, but keep in mind I've never met the Chief. Unlike his predecessor, he doesn't talk to regular people. I think the Chief keeps pursuing this ridiculous strategy of manufacturing tales of terrorism in the building while harassing peaceful protesters because he comes from a military background, then served in the State Patrol before becoming Chief of the Capitol Police. Citizens with loud mouths aren't citizens, they're just maggots that need to be broken down, and when they refuse to be broken down, he needs to teach them a lesson. When they still won't obey orders, they become the enemy. That's my theory, anyway.

He also can't wrap his head around the idea that there are no leaders among us. He is attempting, like a good military strategist, to cut the head off the snake, but what he sees as a snake is just a song circle. There is no head or tail. Like a neighborhood pick-up basketball game, there is no formal structure. Everyone knows that if they show up in the Capitol from noon to one weekdays, there will probably be people there singing. That's all it is.

The people who bring signs or chalk the sidewalk? They are just citizens who oppose the policies of the current administration. Some of them sing along while they hold their signs, but there's no plot, no secret funding, no terrorist organization, no political party, no roster, no dues, no clubhouse, no secret handshake, no marching orders, no union bosses, not even a meeting. People are just pissed off.

Yes, believe it or not, when the government strips basic rights from large classes of people, when they "drop the bomb" on public workers, when they admit they advocate the use of violence to break up peaceful protests, when they pass laws suppressing voting rights in a democracy, and when they openly mock and dehumanize 48 percent of the people or refuse to even have a conversation with legislators in the minority party, citizens don't like it. Shocking, isn't it? The Capitol rotunda was designed as a public forum, so when citizens in Wisconsin have an urge to petition their government, that's where they go, just like they go to the playground when they have the urge to play basketball.

A reporter from a local paper asked me on Friday what I thought the "strategy" of the Solidarity Sing Along was going to be now that Chief Erwin had made these aggressive moves against protesters. "I can only speak for myself, but probably show up on Monday and sing for an hour," was my answer. There was an awkward pause, like he expected more, but there is no more. There is no "they" there.

Sep 12, 2012

Scott Walker's Palace Guard Installs I-don't-like-your-politics 'panic' buttons

Is this Chief David Erwin?
Update II: VIDEO: ACLU Legal Observer Threatened by Wisconsin Capitol Police Speaks Out

Update: Legislators school Capitol Police Chief David Erwin and the Walker administration on constitutional freedoms in September 12 letter. [h/t Voices Newspaper Blog] Letter reads in part:
"The Capitol has a very special, constitutionally-protected role as a forum for people to exercise their rights to speak freely and petition their government. Civility does not mean that those who disagree with the government should sit down, be quiet, and let the administration do whatever it wants. The Administrative Code and the Wisconsin State Facilities Access Policy cannot supersede the state and federal constitutions."---
The criminalization of politically opposing Scott Walker continues, with the collaboration of Capitol Police Chief David Erwin.

Sing a song?

Hold a sign?

Protest a GOP politician?

Capitol Police Chief David Erwin has ways of making you not talk.

From the AP:

Hundreds of security buttons have been installed around the state Capitol as the new police chief steps up efforts to improve a sense of safety in the statehouse.

Department of Administration officials say 482 buttons have been installed in offices around the Capitol. DOA spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says the wireless buttons will send an alert to Capitol police who will respond immediately.

Protesters have routinely congregated in the Capitol to sing songs, hold banners and display signs that are generally in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans. Chief David Erwin recently told The Associated Press that he respects the right to demonstrate, but believes some protesters' behavior has crossed into intimidation.

Check out this video from Kos.

Sep 11, 2012

The Consequences of a Lawless Administration and a Sworn Chief just Following Orders

Wisconsin Constitution
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, we need your help against a lawless Capitol police force acting under orders of the Scott Walker administration.

Capitol police have delivered tickets to sign-holders at their homes and workplace.

This is an act of political intimidation that ought not go unchallenged.

Walker is using the machinery of government to shut down political opposition.

Capitol Police Chief Erwin is reported to have emitted words reminiscent of McCarthy and Nixon: "... [W]e 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."

What's next? Surveillance? Infiltration? Agents provocateur?

Below is a video of a citizen to whom the Capitol police delivered a citation to his place of work.

U.S. Marshals. Dane County Deputies. We need these forces of law and order as a bulwark against this lawless Walker administration.

Sep 8, 2012

Call Madison Capitol Police; Voice Your Objections: 608 266 8797

Wisconsin Constitution

Update II: John Nichols on Capitol Crackdown-Blame Walker/Huebsch! I disagree with John. The following-orders defense is no defense. Chief Erwin ought to tell DOA Sec. Huebsch his policy is violative of the Wisconsin and U.S. Constitutions; call a press conference and explain to the people of Wisconsin why he as a sworn officer will not violate the rights of the Wisconsin people.

Update: See Expect more free speech tests AND arrests in Wisconsin’s Capitol

Needed now: Dane County Sheriff's Public Defense of Citizen Rights and a Court-ordered escort of Citizens Protesting Politicians.

If citizens are met with more illegal police obstruction from Scott Walker's palace guard, the Madison, Wisconsin Capitol Police, Dane County deputies ought to act to protect the rights of citizens and promote the peace against the actions of Capitol Police.

The Madison, Wisconsin Capitol Police are unlawfully following the dictates of Scott Walker's Dept. of Administration Secretary,  Mike Huebsch.

As writer, Ted Voth Jr., notes: this new policy has veered into fascism.

Wisconsin citizens assembling to protest the actions of politicians such as Walker and Huebsch now reportedly face hostile actions from what Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney last year termed the "palace guards" of Scott Walker—those members of the Capitol police who choose to disregard the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions' guarantees of freedom of expression, in favor of careerism and passive compliance to Walker and what can only be termed as his regime.

Walker and Huebsch have found a new ally in their unlawful crusade against lawful dissent:  Dave Erwin who in late August promised a crackdown on citizens assembling to petition our government.

A petulant man, Erwin, walked out of a meeting with state legislators after being asked for the specifics of his policy and how he intends to enforce the lawful rights of Wisconsin citizens.

As Judith Davidoff reports in Isthmus:

Wisconsin state Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) blasted Capitol Police Chief David Erwin Friday afternoon for refusing to answer "basic questions" about the recent arrests at the state Capitol and for abruptly ending a meeting on the topic.

"I was very shocked and disappointed today when you and Department of Administrative Assistant Gwendolyn Coomer walked out of a meeting scheduled in my office," she wrote in a sharply worded letter (PDF) that was hand-delivered to Erwin's office in the state Capitol. Taylor also took the police chief to task for being unable to identify the "specific conduct you believe to be unlawful."

Erwin began enforcing permitting rules for the Capitol this week, resulting in the arrests of some 12 protesters for holding signs.
Now, it is possible that Walker, Huebsch and Erwin will again turn our Capitol into what State Sen. Fred Risser said last year was an "armed fortress." (Nichols)

But citizens have a way of making their voice heard. See Rothschild and Kemble.

Blue Cheddar (in a piece by Worley Dervish) sounds the warning on Friday(see also Voices Newspaper Blog):

The atmosphere today was boisterous and jovial—it’s always great to see so many of our friends gathered together in the People’s House. But there was also a serious side to our signs and our singing and our presence. We highly value our right to free speech, and we’re willing to defend it when it’s threatened. The Capitol police have a duty to uphold the law, the law that guarantees that “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

So thank you again, Chief Erwin, for providing us with this occasion to sing with our friends in the People’s House, for reminding us of how precious our rights to free speech and free assembly are. Thank you for the opportunity to remind you, Governor Walker, and the people of Wisconsin that we’re still here. We’re still exercising our right to free speech, assembly, and petition. And we’re not going away anytime soon

Mar 24, 2011

Valerie Walasek and Jeremy Ryan Guilty of Speech

Valerie Walasek and Jeremy Ryan held a sign inside the capitol.

The Department of Administration doesn't like such displays of free speech. Capital police blithely follow orders. Walasek and Ryan show the world what intelligence and dignity are.

Sep 25, 2009

If An Agent Knocks

As MSNBC was reporting on police efforts to disrupt the G-20 protesters in Pittsburgh, one element missing in its coverage is the explanation for why the police were disrupting Americans exercising their First Amendment rights in the first place.

It was as though the police action were the norm, and the action of the protesters demonstrating their points of view is some presumptive act against our country.


Just as the veterans defending the Los Angeles National Veterans Home were treated as criminals, so too are other Americans in today's unquestioning acquiescence to state authority.

Annette Warren Dickerson and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) are offering protection for citizens to exercise their civil rights in their pamphlet, "If an Agent Knocks".

CCR grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1950s-60s and is dedicated to protecting the rights of all Americans.

Published below is Dickerson's e-mail message to supporters and all citizens:

At this very moment, the fundamental right to dissent is being restricted, threatened and perilously criminalized. CCR is on the front lines defending the right to dissent and has also re-issued an important resource for all those likely to be targeted for their actions.

Right now, thousands of activists who have gathered in Pittsburgh to protest at the G20 summit have been met with what we have come to expect: overreaction by authorities and illegal preventive tactics by law enforcement officials at all levels. A secret communications hub with 'electronic eyes' has been established by the Secret Service, working with over 40 other agencies to infiltrate, spy on, and disrupt all forms of opposition. Raids and arrests are mounting, and the aggressive and well-planned system of cracking down on dissenting voices and reducing media coverage is strongly in effect.

CCR has responded to the increasing threat to dissent in a number of ways. For months now a CCR board member and cooperating attorney, Jules Lobel, has worked with on the ground organizations to secure permits and challenge restrictions to protests. Last week, in collaboration with the ACLU, he successfully represented several organizations in court and secured the right to demonstrate in a city park during the G20 gathering. And in a filing on Monday, we charged the local police with illegal searches, vehicle seizures, raids and detentions of Seeds of Peace members aimed at preventing them from providing food to protestors. CCR's legal director, Bill Quigley, is in Pittsburgh advocating on behalf of the protestors, and CCR will continue its support. On the topic of dissent, Bill Quigley wrote an article on the protests at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, PA; you can read the article here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is re-issuing our pamphlet, 'If an Agent Knocks,' to provide advice to activists likely to be targeted by FBI agents or other federal investigators, in Pittsburgh and beyond. This booklet is a resource to protect activists from government investigation. We also want to support the power you show when you exercise this fundamental right of dissent.

Since its original release in 1989, CCR's 'If an Agent Knocks' has been widely circulated in progressive activist communities across the country. This guide includes both the timeless advice included in the original version and extensive updates to reflect the current state of the law and law enforcement tools. It also includes a comprehensive discussion of today's technology, including cell phones, e-mail and Web browsing.

'If An Agent Knocks' is an invaluable tool for activists in a time when efforts to repress expressions of opposition are intensified. We want to get this publication into as many hands as possible.

To obtain a free copy, please email . You can also download it in pdf form. Tell your friends and fellow activists about 'If An Agent Knocks,' and urge them to place an order too. We are giving away a special edition of 'If An Agent Knocks' posters to the first 500 people who order the booklet.