30 citations issued in Wisconsin’s capitol Tuesday to singers – the 4th day of mass arrests

Essentials First:
Anyone needing legal assistance for arrests while singing or observing singing at the Capitol:
You can call the National Lawyers Guild at 608-520-0654. The coordinator will then attempt to find legal representation for the person who has been arrested.

If you would like to contribute to the First Amendment Protection Fund that helps those cited for singing in the rotunda with tickets and legal expenses, you can either send a check to this mailing address:
FAPF
C/O Steve Gotcher
PO Box 3141
Madison, WI 53704

Or use Paypal to contribute at solidaritysingalong.org

—————-
Today was the 4th day of mass arrests of singers in the Wisconsin capitol building’s rotunda. At least 80 tickets were issued to singers last week. Today on July 30th, it was 30.

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Below is a photograph from Jenna Pope:

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Jenna shared that photo on facebook with this text:
Carol Carstensen, longtime member of the MMSD school board, being arrested in the Wisconsin State Capitol today. Since last Wednesday, the Capitol Police have been arresting people during the Solidarity Sing Along that has been going on since the initial uprising in Wisconsin during the winter of 2011. ‪#‎wiunion‬

See more of her photos and plenty of descriptions of today’s arrests at her facebook page.

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Photo credit: LightBrigading of flickr, C.C. license use.

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Photo credit: LightBrigading of flickr, C.C. license use.

This is footage of arrests from last Thursday.

I wasn’t there today. Here’s Jeremy Ryan’s video from today’s arrests (and I’ll probably add more video a little later):

Here is Leslie Amsterdam’s footage of people singing in the basement holding area where they were ‘processed’.

Why no permits?

I’ve seen this query more than once: “Why don’t the singers get a permit?”

The trouble with answering that question for everybody who sings at the capitol is it is impossible. The singalong is a happening and not an organized group with formal statements. But I’ll give you a few answers I’ve heard from folks who have communicated with me in person or online.

I’ll start with a letter penned by Steve Burns of Madison, Wisconsin who co-founded the solidarity singalong in March of 2011. He recently sent this letter to the Wisconsin State Journal in response to their editorial which said everybody could simply “Get a permit”:

If the government wants to regulate your behavior, they should have to give you a reason. And if they want to regulate political speech in a public space, they should have a pretty good reason. Like the need to protect public safety – the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” example we’ve all heard about.

But the Walker administration, as it cracks down in the Solidarity Sing Along, has never provided any explanation for why arrests – and the permit scheme behind the arrests – is actually necessary to protect public safety.

And that’s because they can’t. For more than two years, people have gathered in the Capitol rotunda, peacefully singing out their grievances about Walker’s policies, and voluntarily moving outside when any other group has requested use of the rotunda. Not a single incident of violence has ever been attributed to participants of the Sing Along, and the informal arrangement that had developed, with the rotunda open for unscheduled use if no other group has reserved it, had been working well until the police crackdown.
Whenever the government claims they need to regulate your behavior, and their only justification is “We make the rules,” it’s time to protest – and maybe even time to get arrested.

Another answer I’ve heard is that the people who get permits to use the capitol are subject to charges for damages inside the building and nobody trusts the Walker administration to deal with that fairly. After the occupation of the capitol building, an assessment of $7.5 million dollars in damages to the capitol was given to the press. It would turn out to be a grossly inflated amount [the cost was $350,000] and based on almost nothing – a note scrawled on notebook paper, in fact. But it got spread widely to the press and was never really corrected later.

Another answer is simply Article 1, Section 4 of the Wisconsin constitution:
“The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

Simple, eh? What part of “never be abridged” is confusing?

On the Importance of the Solidarity Singalong to the Greater State of Wisconsin
A majority of the singers, I think, come from Dane County but the ranks of those who consider themselves ‘of this group’ come from all over the state. And then there is an even wider population that has a strong – even spiritual – affinity for the singalong in Wisconsin though they be far away.

On more than one occasion an online friend has remarked that she/he could hear singers in the background at a government meeting broadcast over Wisconsin’s version of CSPAN (WisEye) and has said that it made them feel so much better to know that an opposing force is present.

This is not only a Madison thing. This is a reality and an activism that enlivens people all over our state, not just 77 square miles of it. In fact it has brought hope and heart to people around the globe.

Long may solidarity singalong prosper.

Footnote:
For the lawyers in the audience – Statement from Madison, Wisconsin Lawyers Guild: State Distorts Court’s Ruling to Justify Dissident Arrests – LINK: http://www.bluecheddar.net/?p=34378

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One thought on “30 citations issued in Wisconsin’s capitol Tuesday to singers – the 4th day of mass arrests

  1. The police are the ones in the wrong here, there is nothing I see wrong with people singing together in a public place. People you have the power kick out the tyrants who are running things and get people in position that will honor your constitutional rights. These are police I know are following order given to them by their commanders — HAVE THE commanders FIRE and removed from their position as traitors of the AMERICAN PEOPLE, Someone need to walk in there an tell them they are FIRED, hand in the their badge and leave the department. Like that is really going to happen but its what needs to be done. CLEAN HOUSE! Voting time is right around the corner too! Create a ballet that gets the job done let the people decide the traitors feat! If I were a police officer i this state I would be trying my best to uphold the constitutional rights of my fellow citizens even if I had to disobey the tyrants running the local government. Stand tall never back down

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