DOA vs. Wisconsin Citizens: Radically Restricted use of Wisconsin Capitol Building Unveiled

This DOA policy change is aimed at cracking down on freedoms in the Capitol building, especially protests, and specifically what I’ve been told is the world’s longest running labor protest, the Solidarity Sing Along. Here are the main points from a 22 page DOA policy for use of Capitol and state buildings of Wisconsin which I’ve heard goes into effect January 1st, 2012 Dec. 17 after a “an education period”.

Starting with most WTF policy point first:
*No civil legal recourse is available for death, injury, damage or theft of property that a Wisconsin citizen may experience in a state facility. The state and its departments, employees, agents, are “held harmless” for all suits, damages, claims, or other liabilities related to death,injury,damage, or theft of property. [Very nice for any law enforcement that might like to toss you on the floor or twist your arm, for example.]

*Helium balloons are not allowed in the Capitol. [On the bright side, this reduces the odds of a staffer trying to come at your balloon with a knife]

*Where a “public area” is can change at any time and the only areas deemed public are the ground and 1st floors of the Capitol. [Damn capricious.]

*All “events” must have a permit but for “spontaneous” events and spontaneous events must occur in response to a “triggering” event which occurred in the previous week or is occurring. Events that are advertised by social media and other means 7 or more days before the event are not “spontaneous”. [Republicans are providing so many triggers for protest, this isn’t a big deal…]

*Vandalism, theft, loss, breakage determined to be caused by the event participants will be charged to them. [A deterrent given the previous $7.5 million dollar estimate scrawled on notepaper]

*A rally is defined as 4 or more people. [We’re talking barbershop quartets and the Raging Grannies, protesters in matching shirts–just any group of people that looked remotely “together”. Here’s a workaround: look like lobbyists. They’re guaranteed entry any time.]

*Events held during working hours, 8-12 and 1-4, will be under 90 decibels. [for comparison, a vacuum cleaner reaches approx. 80 decibels. 90 decibels is roughly equivalent to a shouted conversation.] But the policy states “any sound should be as low as possible”.

*The charge for extra law enforcement will be charged to the protesters at $50/hour for Capitol police and at whatever other law enforcement charge for reimbursement and the charges incurred may be required up front before the permit is granted. [Wealthy protesters are alright. Poor-not OK. See previous note about lobbyists.]

*No signs affixed to any walls,statuary,trees,windows, etc.

*Permits are required on the state grounds if over 100 participants are expected.

From the S.S.Along facebook page–and I assume this is Chris Reeder writing: “I have been in touch with the ACLU, and am working to obtain legal counsel. I will most likely be sitting down with a DOA lawyer at some point and discussing this. I’ve also let my State Rep. (the fantastic Chris Taylor) and Sen. Larson’s office know about this….
My current opinion on getting a permit has not changed. We have been protesting at the Capitol every single weekday since March 11, well over 200 times now, without a permit. I firmly believe that what we are doing is protected speech, and occupying the rotunda (politely, joyfully, peacefully, and harmoniously) without a permit has been one of the central tenets of what the sing along has been about since March…

Suggestions on other actions to take:
Call or email your State Senator and State Rep. Make sure they know about this and encourage them to take action to protect our free speech.

Write a letter to the editor of any of the Wisconsin papers. Make sure they know about this attack on free speech by Walker and the DOA.”

12 thoughts on “DOA vs. Wisconsin Citizens: Radically Restricted use of Wisconsin Capitol Building Unveiled

  1. These rules supposedly apply to the Capitol building but do they apply to the Department of Administration building? It does have a cafeteria that is open to the public…I’m just saying.

    BTW- the food sucks but the view of Lake Monona is spectacular.

    • The text “22 page…” in the 1st paragraph should hot link to it. If it does not for some reason [tech glitch?] , then I saw via tweet that Andrew Kroll did a Mother Jones piece on this OR you cld google ‘Solidarity sing along’ and ‘doa’ and probably find it.

  2. I really think we need a much better legal strategy. Our response to the Capitol lockdown was weak, we just accepted delay after delay after delay. We didn’t have a coordinated legal strategy, near as I can tell, for the arrests in the gallery. And now this. We need a solid, organized legal response. However, IANAL. Just frustrated.

  3. So pedestrians are walking on the sidewalk around the Capitol building and someone spontaneously starts giving a speech about the necessity to protest Republican tyranny. Citizens decide to spontaneously enter the Capitol to protest and possibly sing patriotic songs. No “social media” is used to organize this. It just spontaneously happens every day because citizens are outraged by the actions of our brownshirt Governor.

    By the way, these DOA rules won’t hold up five minutes in court, especially the crap about the state not being liable for injury etc. Administrative rules are used to determine the operation of government agencies, they cannot be used to take away our civil liberties or our right to access the court system.

    These Republican asshats have taken “over-reach” to a stratospheric level. The party of small government…indeed.

  4. Who drafted this, and who voted for it? When was the vote, and why wasn’t it announced of publicly debated? (Or was it?) We need to vote the supporters of this out!!!

    • Ah yes. I did leave some unanswered questions. Apologies. A late night post I felt I couldn’t put off yada yada… And now I am doing some chores aroudn town, so can’t do a proper job but…here’s a weak one. I believe this would be drafted under the advisement of Mike Huebsch head of DOA but that’s a guess. Rules of building use do not seem to be publicly debated. Wholeheartedly agree with voting supporters of this out. Likely you will see Rebecca Kemble of Progressive writing about this as well as blogger illusory tenant. I talked to Sen. Bob Jauch about this a little at the Capitol this morning and he suggested I speak to Sen. Fred Risser about it – – so there may be a statement coming out today from him. Also, double check the Solidarity Sing Along facebook page as well as possibly the Madison or Wisconsin ACLU. I’ll try to do something a bit better tonight.

  5. “Officer, I’ve never seen this people before. I just spontaneously dropped by to sing “Wintering in a Walker Blunderland” by myself and all these other strangers were in here doing the same thing. Spontaneously.”

  6. Not only does Blue Cheddar tell us what we need to know about these terrible assaults on our rights as Wisconsinites and Americans, Blue Cheddar also gives sound advice telling us how we can effectively fight back. I love that. Thank you, Blue Cheddar!

    • Aww shucks. Actually the advice came from Chris Reeder in there, but thanks. I’ve been thinking about this one all night. I’m trying to have a sense of humor but in truth, I’m pretty sad about this development. So obviously violating civil liberties. I hope this is destroyed in a court of law.

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