Singing, arrests, Anne Feeney, singing, arrests, observer handcuffed, singing, arrests…

Well, it’s been a quiet couple of days in Madison.  Arrests in Wisconsin’s Capitol are hum drum right now.  Not even worth calling mom about.

A conversation in Madison circa August 2013 might include all of these questions:
‘Hey who got arrested for singing today?  When was your court date?  Want some extra zucchini?’

OK, I am kidding (sort of).  Sometimes things bank shot off the right area of my brain and I’m enraged.  But some days that just doesn’t happen. Events that happen every day become normalized.  That’s survival.

Wednesday August 21:


I was present for this entire sing along.
Cops came out late and then arrested slowly. I heard they only rounded up about 10 people [no press coverage with official numbers from Stephanie Marquis of DOA was forthcoming]. Maybe they were short-staffed? There is a facebook rumor that the cops went on a sick-out Wednesday. I estimate that 300 people were present.

Notable arrests:
Emily who sat down and was moved around using what’s called ‘pain compliance’ (they bend your wrists the wrong way, for example).

cuffed 08 21 2013

Miguel from Crawford County was arrested as he stood with 10 or so other AFSCME folks who proudly sported their green union T-shirts. I spoke to Miguel briefly and he told me that he felt good to be ‘among friends – with people who support labor’. He spent some time at the capitol during the February 2011 uprising. He said he was treated just fine by the police. There was some joking and wonderment immediately after about how it could be that cops arrested the one Mexican-American in the joint.



The singer Thistle of Thistle and Thorns was arrested.  It also happened to be her birthday and we sang “Happy Birthday” to her in 4 part harmony (and I think also to a woman named Suzie (?))

Thursday August 22:

Today I came in about 20 minutes into the sing and learned there were ZERO arrests at that time – an extraordinary thing given that the tradition has been for cops to descend at 12:05 or 12:10PM – after the 1st song ends.


The great UNINTIMIDATED letters were hoisted aloft again (they were not on Wednesday). Seemed like we had an extra hundred in attendance and some non-conventional-looking guy with a big professional camera was down in the trenches with the singers. I found out later that he is with Labor Notes in Chicago and is working on a documentary.

And teachers from Milwaukee’s MTEA were there.


There was 1 arrest during the whole sing and 2 arrests later on the square.

The lone interior arresttee, Nora Cusack, was holding a sign to indicate she is an observer on the 1st floor level. According to the Isthmus, the back of her sign displays a quote from Stephanie Marquis proclaiming that the Capitol police will not hassle observers:* “Observers will not receive citations — DOA, August 7, 2013.”

It get’s weirder.

From the Isthmus: “Cusack says one officer added her personal information to a partially completed ticket that listed the violation as “unlawful assembly.” But another officer directed that a second violation — “Bring signs supported by standards or sticks” — be added. Cusack noted that her hand-held sign was not supported by a stick or standard but was told it was a violation of administrative code to carry a sign.

“Apparently I am the standard,” she says.”


The two arrested outside later are Carl Gibson and Miles Kristan who were using a mobile PA system (nothing bigger than a karaoke amplifier) on State of Wisconsin property. Go ahead and watch this video. You hear the dialog, “What were they arrested for?” “For talking.”  I’ve heard that the late Ben Masel sued the state successfully to maintain the state Capitol’s outdoor square as a public space that does not require a permit for speaking.  I do not doubt that this would be challenged by the current administration as often as possible.

Video is by Steve Bray:


I forgot to tell you about the visiting star: Anne Feeney. No worries.  For that I’ll direct you to Lane Hall’s piece Songs In the Key of Persistance: The Zip Ties Aren’t Tight Enough Enough To Silence the Singing

Flickr user depthandtime has a lovely set of photos from Solidarity Sing Alongs.  Check ’em out.


*  Isthmus: Are Capitol police arresting observers of the Solidarity Sing Along?


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