Today was day number 13 of mass arrests of singers at the Wisconsin Capitol building putting the number of citations issued since July 24th somewhere around the 260 mark. I don’t have an exact number of arrests from today but I estimate 15 – 20 with around 300 people either singing or observing.
We experienced the usual requisite warning by ear-pounding LRAD that we were unlawfully assembled in the rotunda and must disperse immediately or risk arrest and we then saw officers coming into the rotunda in groups, tapping the shoulder of an unsuspecting singer, applying cuffs, and walking their targets back to elevators. We saw citizens hoisting cameras aloft – maybe 10 or 15 citizen photographers for each mainstream press camera.
And we saw some unusual things:
*No arrests of raging grannies. (Yes. I’ve been learning to expect this.) There were 3 arrests last Thursday and there have been arrests of grannies before then on the regular.
*Brian Austin of Cops For Labor was there.
He told Wisconsin State Journal
“New participants, many of them from local police and firefighter unions, said last Thursday’s arrest of a journalist, a Madison City Council member and a 14-year-old girl encouraged them to join the more than 2-year-old Solidarity Singalong.
“That to me was the last straw,” said Brian Austin, a Madison Police officer. “It just seemed absolutely absurd to me that this is happening in Wisconsin.”
*Many new faces encircled the 1st floor and happily clapped along and applauded after each song. (For this I think we can give some credit to Marty Biel who requested last week that AFSCME members come this week.)
*A phalanx of firemen and firewomen – I heard 12 of them came.
*The arrest of firefighter, Ted Higgins.
Video from LadyForward
*A glorious new “UNINTIMIDATED” sign.
(I’ve heard that Scott Walker was thinking of entitling his new ghost-written book along this line. What a coincidence!)
I noticed that police arrested at least 6 people who were holding “UNINTIMIDATED” letters.
Soooo – they experienced an infringement on both their audible right to speak and their right to share speech in print.
A cop took one of the needed letter “N”‘s during 1 of the arrests.
So with magic marker and spare tag board in hand, another “N” quickly emerged.
I decided to focus on getting footage of cops walking with their captured singers to the elevators, even though that gets crowded given there are plenty of other people doing the same thing.
Once the officers are at the elevators, they must stand around with their prey while camera people in turn prey upon them: *click* *click*. In these long moments people ask the officers how they can do what they’re doing and uphold their oath to serve the public or they taunt the officers with calls of ‘Shame!’ or ‘Retire!’. Radio journalist Doug Cunningham was after them every time asking questions and every time officers remained mute – as I assume they are instructed to do by their superiors. I guess Doug may as well try – maybe a cop will slip up sometime and speak. But of course he risks arrest doing this given that Matt Rothschild – a pretty well-known journalist – was arrested last Thursday for, he says, taking a photo of another arrestee.
[FYI – Rothschild spoke with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now today. I first heard him on WORT FM in my car. Here’s the archived Democracy Now link.]
Two legislators were there from Iowa (I believe they were visiting with WI Rep. Melissa Sargent) and after the sing they asked a few questions and took photographs.
After a sing everybody hangs around to share news, show new citations, and express wonderment or disdain for what just happened – though truth be told, some of us repeat visitors are getting pretty used to everything. That’s where I heard through the grapevine that an insider said that this Wisconsin mass arrest stuff won’t be on Rachel Maddow’s show any time soon because it is not considered “news worthy”.
Maybe a few of us should contact Rachel and pique her interest.
Here’s a place to contact MSNBCTV
See more of my photos from today at my flickr stream.