Wisconsin’s ACLU says that Michael Kissick has refrained “from exercising his First Amendment rights in the Capitol for fear of being ticketed or arrested” and he is suing the Wisconsin DOA with their help.
I love to sing in the Capitol rotunda, but like Kissick, I am no longer a singer [he quit in September 2012]. For me it’s the security cameras everywhere and the cops taking photos and looking people up on the net to get a facial recognition match and keeping a list. It’s seeing people dragged out for taking a picture, or shoved to a wall, or shoved to the ground, or chased by cops for nothing that I can understand.
Those were all separate incidents – separate people. But they glom together in my mental picture of the place and so I have bad dreams if I stay there for long. Those dreams set off other bad dreams. So if you asked me, the non-lawyer, why I haven’t been inside there for months I’d say “nightmares”. I’m glad the ACLU is around to say “first amendment” and “by the way, we are suing your ass, DOA.” [My vernacular, not theirs].
Godspeed, Wisconsin ACLU and solidarity to stubborn and strong singers everywhere.
From the Wisconsin ACLU web site:
“The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, charging that a recent state Department of Administration policy violates the First Amendment. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, aims to block the agency from requiring permits for demonstrations held in the State Capitol and from punishing protesters who engage in expressive activity in the Capitol Rotunda without a permit.
Michael Kissick, an assistant professor of medical physics and human oncology…”
Read more at UW Professor Challenges Capitol Access Rules
FYI, I gather through facebook comments that a Wisconsin State Journal piece entitled “Lawsuit filed over permit policy for gatherings at Capitol” is not getting much right, particularly a judge’s ruling from January 17th. It’s thought to lean heavily on information from a skewed DOA press release.