Third day of mass arrests in WI’s capitol – my notes from the road

I am in Michigan for a wedding now and this weekend and I’m writing this post on my phone. Apologies for the rough formatting.. 

I’ve been checking facebook and twitter the whole drive up for updates on today’s activities at the capitol building.  I’ll share with you what I’ve located on the net.

From WPR “DOA issued a statement saying it had issued 17 tickets on site for gathering without a permit. The DOA 14 people “will receive” citations “from video.” In the past, police have mailed tickets to protesters whose identity they already know.”

WPR’s story includes comments from Brian Standing and Bart Munger.

There was much speculation online and on site today regarding a wedding that was scheduled to be at the capitol today. Would it be disturbed by protest? Did it even happen?
WPR offers us this information:
“The DOA also produced a copy of a permit application for a wedding that was scheduled to be held either inside the rotunda or outside if the weather was nice. DOA says the wedding party chose to get married outside today even though it was occasionally drizzling at the noon hour. It’s unknown at this time whether the wedding party made its decision because of the protesters.”

From Arthur at SSWIDTMS: “Police started warning random groups of onlookers that if they didn’t immediately disperse they to would be arrested. Many of those warned were tourists visiting from out of town.” VIDEO

Teamster Nation caught the fact that a child was arrested.

Franciscan Friar Phil Gerbac announcing happily “arrest me” in the rotunda’s center. (very brief video).

Minister Carter Dary suffered a heart ailment while protesting (that’s a video link). I got word that he is in the hospital but is in good spirits and has further testing scheduled tomorrow.

Letter to DOA’s Mike Huebsch from Sen. Risser and Rep. Taylor.

Ryan Wherley says in his post that by cracking down on singers “Scott Walker and Mike Huebsch made a HUGE mistake.”

He notes an important shift present in 2013 that I’ve been thinking about too:

“It felt like the Uprising of February 2011 all over again, with one major difference. Two years ago, we were a disparate group of individuals marching for a similar cause, but unknown to each other. But now, we’re friends and family. Everywhere I looked were people who’ve stood alongside each other on the front lines in the fight against a tyrannical leadership for the past 29 months. If people were afraid, they didn’t show it, because they knew their brothers and sisters surrounding them had their backs.”

We said “brothers and sisters” in 2011 without fully experiencing what we were talking about. Now we are “there” more fully.

Greg Gordon spoke about this week’s mass arrests tonight at 7:30PM Central on a Detroit radio program called The Tony Show. Hopefully a podcast of his interview will emerge shortly.

That’s all the typing I want to do on a smartphone tonight (Relieved I was wise enough to get a model with a keyboard). I am not scared of what’s happening in the rotunda. I would be more frightened for us all if we were pretending everything was just fine after 2 years of watching Walker’s kleptocracy unfold. That would be madness.

*Updated* Watch the Wisconsin State of the Tribes Address Today 1PM Central Time.

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at

Here is my reflection on the day’s events. This will have some spelling mistakes – I will not spell all names correctly out of the gate (sorry). I’ll be going back and cleaning it up later.

It’s getting long. Most of it is transcription.

You can of course skip to these sections:
*Rain Forces Indian Drums, Tubas, and Cops To Coexist
*In the Assembly Chamber
*The Propaganda. DNR. Spearfishing.(At the 33 minute mark of the video)
And some others…

Rain Forces Indian Drums, Tubas, and Cops To Coexist
We were supposed to assemble outside on East side of the Capitol bldg at noon, but then the drizzle was turning to rain. The assembled sensibly enterd the Capitol. The wet crowd reminded me of the day we entered to protest Walker signing the voter ID bill but of course now there are no metal detectors and the issues have changed. We filled the rotunda and a group of people ringed the 1st floor and people even filled every opening from the 2nd floor to watch the drumming. A visiting band played what sounded like John Phillips Sousa on the 1st floor (I had seen them file in earlier with their matching white shirts and black pants) and I looked at ever-present protester Jon knowingly. I believe we said “This will be interesting”. Would the cops try to bust up this many people to preserve the band concert?

The strains of flutes and tubas died down and the drumming immediately began from within a circle of men in the midst of this dim canyon of marble and the silent rings of watchers – 1st very softly, then growing to fill the building. I stood maybe 6 feet away. I was videotaping their song but decided to put down the camera and step away both out of respect and to preserve my battery for the inevitable encircling of police I felt would come on in a minute – I saw the typical walkie talkie’what do I do now’ alarm on a cop’s face in my peripheral vision. The drum sound was so loud it vibrated through my chest. I pictured the good high schoolers one floor up with their brass and silver instruments laid flat on their laps in the dimness, following the instructions of the conductor who told them to stay in position and in silence. The song was too soon over and almost immediately the high school band music swells up in something that sounded like a copycat of America the Beautiful. Cops came close. I put the video on and train it on the police assuming no good. They are all friendliness though. Shaking hands. A woman I barely know comes up to hug me. She is friendly with a woman cop there but she calls her the wrong name and it’s no matter. It is good to just be friendly and happy. To forget any reason we had to be fearful such as the arrest of a Red Cliff drummer for the same activity last year by Capitol police (which last I knew was in court).

This time: all smiles all around.

We go up to the 3rd floor to sit in the assembly gallery – the site of so many crimes against decorum like holding up little slips of paper or smart phones. . Everybody is on their best behavior today though I assume out of respect for our visiting tribe members more than anything else. Evey single seat in each of the 3 galleries fills and we have people standing behind us.
[More from me in a minute. Need to connect with Mike — get home.]

In the Assembly Chamber
At some point a drum begins to sound from an area below and underneath the gallery. We all stand out of respect. The song goes on a long time and I have a great feeling as I imagine that there will be no speech today and all of the legislators will file in and they will be asked to stand and listen to music for one hour and that will be the communications between the respective governments today. But it was just a daydream. The music stops and we are free to watch the legislators milling around below as if they are in their zoo enclosure and we are tucked safely in our tiny observation seats behind a railing, our page guarding the door.

I can see why the legislature does not want me to take a photo of them from here. I watch Robin Vos complaining about some unknown drama to Glenn Grothman Vos points both of his fingers down at a chair brings them up, brings them down, brings them up… this repeats and his face is contorting, a little pink, and his arms move up and down like a farm machine. There must be some injustice with the names on the chairs. The matriarch of the mine bill, Representative Mary Williams, drifts imperiously across the floor to her seat. Dale Schultz looks zen. Tanned. Smiling. He always looks like he is supposed to be where he is. Senator David Hansen strides toward the tribal leaders that are seated in a grouping to the side of the regular seats. He shakes hands applying a second grip to arms. This is the full welcome and I know he wouldn’t do it if he didn’t feel it. Now Bob Jauch approaches with a little less force but the same warmth standing next to Senator Hansen. Now Tom Tiffany approaches to shake Tom Maulson’s hand at the edge of this square of men but it is brief and curt, and he flows to the left and away.

Things are coming together. We hear a prayer in Ojibwe from an LCO school leader. I spy all of the legislators in the pit and 5 are actually keeping their heads bent down the entire time in intensity and I assume faith and Don Pridemore is one of them. Despite my aversion to nearly every statement he has uttered I feel a visceral *ding* of approval for the man for paying respect.

Then Gordon Thayer, Chairman, of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin begins his speech.

He deftly breaks the ice by making us laugh, telling us to look to the person adjacent to us and say, “I’m glad you’re hear” and then say, “And I am sorry about what I said about you last night”. He is very comfortable, looking at notes but looking at us most of the time. He introduces each tribe’s leader and the biggest cheers go up to Mike Wiggins, Jr. the soft spoken leader who has led the defense of the Penokees and the entire watershed beyond it from mining.

He recognized the veterans and asked everybody to remember our men and women in service and their families and to keep them in our prayers and thoughts – and at this point I saw a few legislators nodding.

He moved on to address the problems of prescription drugs such as hydrocodin and heroin and the state of emergency that has been declared at Lac du Flambeau informing us there have been 10 overdoses within the past year. He listed the actions taken to combat this: controls on pharmacy, removing an over-prescribing doctor, a public hearing on 3/30/13.

The Propaganda. DNR. Spearfishing.
(At the 33 minute mark of the video)
Then he moved on to the tension between tribes and Wisconsin’s DNR – which is headed by Cathy Stepp but is really Walker’s DNR.

He was chairman of the LCR in the 80’s.
“I’ve read some inflammatory press clippings lately about our spring spearfishing declaration. It brought me back to the 80’s when tensions ran high from slanted comments in the press…it’s almost like flashbacks. I had numerous calls threatening remarks. Making racial derogatory remarks…the racial. I won’t even repeat them here…”
“The Wisconsin DNR leadership must recognize it is not the 80’s. Spearfishing and treaty-protected rights have ensured a safe harvest for all to enjoy. I say ALL to enjoy.

“It’s a sad commentary when political propaganda appears in the press. Who wants to come to visit Wisconsin when slanted press releases are designed to raise tensions and provoke concern among sportsmen about our very own resources. It’s time for this propaganda to stop and true leadership through communication must begin. That’s what leadership is.”

We all rose to offer a sustained, standing ovation.

He said it’s been scientifically proven that 100% of tribal quotas take less than 13% of the total fish population in each lake in Northern Wisconsin. “Yet the DNR press releases would have you think that a bag limit is the last step from fish depletion. That is simply not true on two fronts.”

“First the state chose a bag limit so that they could regulate their fisherman. Second the bag limits are adjusted to accomodate the completed tribal harvest. In some years it was before the fishing season goes into full effect. However the DNR announces [in a press release] bag limits is a counter to tribal fish declarations.”

“The fishing season tribal or non-tribal hasn’t even started yet. Yet the DNR is hitting the news circuit with press releases that would have you think that bag limits are about saving the fish in northern Wisconisn. It’s not true.

“This is a political play – that’s how we feel – to embarrass the tribes into harvesting fewer fish. The tribal fish declarations are independent from the bag limits set by DNR. This propaganda parade through the press may sell papers but it can possibly create the tensions we had here in the 1980’s. We don’t want that.”

He credited the Great Lakes Indian Fishing and Wildlife Commission for actively protecting and enhancing the natural resources and habitat of the treaty ceded territories.

Chairman Thayer called on all to, “propaganda not-withstanding”, continue to work alongside the DNR to ensure that all residents of Wisconsin enjoy the bounty of the North.
“Let us at least agree to a peaceful fishing season and no political violence and racial tensions. We’re all tired of that.”

“Another sticky spot is mining.”

“Much has been said on both sides of this important issue but none has involved open and honest dialog between the tribes and the state.”

Over and over again in his speech, Chairman Thayer called for better communication between ll parties present. He did so again.

“Make no mistake the eleven tribes of Wisconsin opposed the mine and its permitting process. And we stand unified – I say unified – with our relatives at Bad River reservation in protecting the waters.”

He then turned to face Mike Wiggins, Junior leader of the Bad River Band and said,
“Mike we stand behind you and your people.”

He then asked the audience how many people drank a glass of water this morning. “Water sustains us. You know, water gives us life and I feel we have to recognize that our state is endowed with a lot of beautiful water. I heard somebody say that you can’t even eat the fish out of some of the lakes around here. That’s a sad time. It purifies us. It’s a gift from the creator. It’s gift to us all.”

Not Just Jobs
“The beauty of our state isn’t just about job production and about interstate highways – we all need ’em. Paved roads. Electrical lines. All of which we have become dependent upon to survive. Rather, our state is known across America for its pristine beauty. From the bluffs of Prairie du Chien to the rock formations of the Wisconsin Dells. THe traditional homeland of the Hochunk. The 136 mile long Peshtigo River that is formed in Forest County to the beautiful Wolf River near the Menomonie Nation and to the wild rice beds that populate NOrther Wisconsin providing food and medicine for our Ojibwe People. …. Again, my point is that we have – I’m hoping that we’re all grabbing what I’m saying is that this pristine valuable – we all share that. We all share that in common.”

The Loss of Wild Rice
Chairman Thayer bemoaned the loss of wild rice from Clam Lake. [At this time he raised his voice.] “Something is happening in our environment that is affecting that crop alone! … This substance of wild rice is indigenous to our people… It’s hard when you don’t have that anymore and you can’t process that. That is at the heart of our community and in our spirit.

(This next line then drew long, sustained, loud, applause.)
“We can not cash in our natural resources for corporate profit.”
“Nor for temporary job creation. It’s not to be traded like some kind of asset or commodity…”

He then quoted Chief Seattle.
“Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every clearing and wood, is holy in the memory and experience of my people. Even those unspeaking stones along the shore are loud with events and memories in the life of my people.”

We need communication. Not outsiders making our laws
“..These are some of the more difficult examples of tribal-state relations but believe me, it’s something we can work through as long as we want to sit down together to work them through.”

“I guess the common theme in some of this is the breakdown in communication….

“So I ask this distinguished body to consider this offer:
When it comes time to make a difficult decision on resources, and policies, that impact us both, that we agree to meet.
Agree to meet.
Sometimes we never agree but we should never let outsiders make our laws for us.”

Next came from the audience:

[More after I eat supper.]

Watch the State of the Tribes Address live today at 1PM Central Time at Wisconsin Public TV

Or at Wisconsin Eye.

I’ll be at the event in person and I will provide a recap right here.

Nobody Buys DOA Disinformation at Wisconsin Capitol

About 30-50 people gathered in the Capitol building’s basement this morning to question Chief Tubbs and a Department of Administration rep. on a new policy that will — among other things — force protesters at Wisconsin’s Capitol building to pay for additional law enforcement and treat groups of 4 or more people as “rallies”. DOA’s Deputy Secretary Chris Schoenherr asserted repeatedly he is not an attorney and could not answer legal questions about policy. Answers from Tubbs and Schoenherr were usually variations on the following:
1- “I’m not going to respond to a hypothetical situation.”
2- “The policy is based on Chapter 2 in the administrative code. Our legal team believes it is defendable.”

Brian S. asked about the “hypothetical” on everybody’s mind:
“”Let’s say that whenever the implementation date is, that there are 150 singers in the rotunda, are you prepared to make 150 arrests if those people do not voluntarily comply?”
Tubbs: I’m not going to respond to a hypothetical
Brian S.: It is not a hypothetical.
Tubbs: We will evaluate that situation. I am not going to give up the ability we have as a law enforcement agency to professionally deal with a situation that could be questionable.” The Solidarity Sing Along group has been singing at noon every weekday at the Capitol since March 11. Song leader Chris Reeder has made it clear the group is not going to get a permit to “exercise our free speech rights”.

One of the “hypotheticals” posed by Katy R. was: “If I want to bring 3 members of my family to see the holiday tree – if we have the same sentiment that we want to express at the same time – is that going to turn this into a rally?”

Schoenherr replied, “It is a practical matter. That’s something we’ll have to work out on an individual basis… If you want to just have your family here and say ‘God bless America’ that would be OK.

I think Schoenherr has no clue how disturbing that comment sounded.

Greg P. used Schoenherr’s comment to frame the perilous state that DOA’s policy puts free speech in:
“.. it would be so easy for these procedures to be selectively enforced. You said before if people want to come to the Christmas tree lighting and say “God bless America” that would be OK. But that’s a problem. What if people want to come to the Christmas tree lighting and say “God damn America”. – – those are equivalent things and if you enforce this on people that say “God damn America” and not “God bless America”, that is a serious problem”.

Assembly Representative Chris Taylor said that the DOA’s restricted Capitol policy is at the top of her constituents’ minds. She said, “ really seems to be we are imposing a fee on people’s exercise of their constitutional rights if we’re going to say you have to pay to participate in a large gathering. Then we’re saying in order to express yourself politically, you’re going to have to pay to do that and I don’t know how you all are going to get around some really settled constitutional provisions.”

The response to Rep. Taylor: Answer #2.

Ed K. expressed outright anger for charging for protest: “This is a user fee. We get a policy that’s raising taxes on specific people making use of this building. That’s objectionable. It’s against all of the history of this state…” He added that the public should see what account the money would go to and what would be done with it.”

Ed K. requested both a copy of the previous policy on protests and a base line of regular staffing – such as what might be learned by studying a year’s worth of Capitol officer time sheets. His 2nd request was rebuffed by Tubbs who said that he could not give that information out for security reasons.

Tim R. asked a key question on timing:
“I don’t believe that the question of ‘Why now?’ has been answered adequately at all. You would forgive us all for concluding that this governor will not countenance any dissent. He will not countenance free speech. I recall him saying some months ago ‘Oh the solidarity singers. Those are 20 teachers. Who cares.’ Well it is more than 20 teachers. There’s a lot of people there. It seems to me it is rubbing him the wrong way and THAT is why we are getting this policy and I would like an answer to that.”

DOA disinformation capitol education

The official answer to this “Why now?” question was given already, but it was just so weak, nobody accepted it. Schoenherr said DOA changed the policy now because (1) DOA didn’t believe it had 1 document to answer the public’s questions on permits and (2) There is a precedent set with the status of a lawsuit filed by Ben Masel.

Leslie A. brought files on 3 lawsuits to the meeting. They originated with the late Ben Masel and established that Wisconsinites do not need a permit for assembly in the Capitol or on the Capitol grounds and do not need a permit for an amplification device. She said ” … Are you suggesting that you’re going to require people to get a permit when it’s not required? When it’s settled law? … Is DOA suggesting that they are going to violate settled law in order to conduct an illegal permit process and they will require us to sue the DOA yet again which is at taxpayer expense for the DOA to defend it?”

In reply Chief Tubbs asserted that the largest protests this year were under permits. Tubbs said, “..let me be clear: the permits are not new.”

I made a quick call to Jeff Scott Olsen, an expert in constitutional law who served for decades as attorney for the late constitutional activist Ben Masel. He said Leslie was referencing a lawsuit which challenges the constitutionality of DOA-issued permits to assemble at the Capitol. The filing was amended to substitute the organization NORML for Ben in September. He said that around that time Wisconsin’s Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar told him DOA was going to replace existing regulations in October or November of this year. Olsen said he will work on fighting the DOA case ASAP now that new procedures are out, but he can not pinpoint when his 1st legal action will take place.

After listening to about 1 hour of non-answer answers on DOA’s policy this morning, I thought I may as well give it a shot. I asked, “Do you think that these procedural changes are in line with the principles of democracy?” I got answer # 2 from Schoenherr.

From behind me Jenna Pope shot back at Schoenherr, “You realize that by saying this over and over again it doesn’t make it true.”

The new DOA policy is set to go into effect on Saturday December 17. According to WNPJ, the sponsor of the singing group, Monday, December 19th will be the first day the Solidarity Sing-Along will be subject to the new policy. You can keep up to date with the Solidarity Sing Along group through their facebook page.

More images from the disinformation session are at the blue cheddar facebook page.

Link to highlights of the 22 page policy and a PDF copy.

The ACLU write-up: DOA Information Session on Protest Permit/Liability Scheme Leaves Citizens with More Questions

Brian Standing’s WORT FM report on this event is in this audio news report.

Samantha Masterton: “I was arrested for taking pictures”

This is written by Samantha Masterton and has appeared in the Wausau Daily Herald:

On Nov. 1, the first day it was legal to carry concealed guns in Wisconsin, I was arrested.

I had traveled to Madison to participate in Concealed Camera Day, an organized protest against concealed carry and the unconstitutionality of Assembly gallery rules. I carried my camera into the Assembly gallery, quietly snapped pictures, and was promptly arrested.

Two of the many rules of the Assembly gallery are the prohibition of photography and signs. Although these rules have been in place for some years, it is only recently that they are being challenged. I have been watching with increasing horror as illegal arrests have been perpetrated against peaceful citizens who were photographing or holding signs in the gallery.

People have been arrested for displaying copies of the U.S. Constitution. Pictures of apple pie, Ronald Reagan and Mother Teresa have been grounds for arrest. One man was arrested for wearing a cross made of paper and tied around his neck with a piece of yarn. The cross was considered a sign because it had words on it: “For God so loved the world.” These arrests enrage me.

Gov. Scott Walker has called special sessions of the Legislature in which public debate is essentially eliminated. The doors of the Capitol are routinely illegally locked during Assembly and Senate sessions, severely limiting citizen access. Walker’s administration has held public meetings in spaces too small to comfortably accommodate all who wish to speak.

Government transparency, public discourse and debate should be nonpartisan issues. These issues and the trampling of our First Amendment rights have put me in such an agitated state that I took a day off from work to make the trek to Madison and risk arrest.

The Assembly session on Nov. 1 began around 6:30 p.m. Upon entering the single gallery that was open (another barrier to citizen involvement), I was handed a small slip of paper listing the gallery rules. On the lighted information board across the room, I clearly saw the admonishment, “Please follow all posted rules.” I took a picture of the sign.

One of the pages quickly told me to put my camera away, and I refused, stating that it was my right to take pictures.

It was only a matter of minutes later, when I was quietly photographing the arrest of another protester, that I was approached by two police officers and was asked to leave the gallery with them. I did not resist.

The officers escorted me down the hall and handcuffed me. I was told I was under arrest for breaking the Assembly rules. I repeatedly asked what law I had broken. The charge ended up being for “other conduct prohibited – obstruction” with an attached fine of $205.50.

I was taken, flanked by the officers, to a basement cafeteria and a makeshift processing center where I sat, still handcuffed, while I was written a citation. Other arrestees filtered in, each flanked by two officers, who ranged in demeanor from embarrassed to angry.

It was all over in a matter of 15 minutes. The handcuffs were taken off, I was handed my citation, and I was told that I could not re-enter the Assembly gallery that night. All told, eighteen people were arrested.

Many of these arrests were captured on video. One of the best is on YouTube under the title “Police State – Concealed Cameras in the Wisconsin Capitol.” My arrest is at the two-minute mark.

All of the previous citations for holding signs or photographing meetings have been dismissed, and I expect that mine will be dismissed, as well. I expect no other negative repercussions to come from my arrest. It was a farce, honestly, and I do not feel as if I did anything noble or heroic.

All I did was refuse to comply with what I feel is an illegal rule that is in direct violation of the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions and of Wisconsin statutes. Statute 19.90 states, “Whenever a governmental body holds a meeting in open session, the body shall make a reasonable effort to accommodate any person desiring to record, film or photograph the meeting.”

And I will refuse to comply again, if need be. “The First Amendment,” said one of the signs in the gallery, “Use it or lose it.”

Colbert Gives a Tip of the Hat to Scott Walker for guns in the Capitol

Thank you to SSWIDTMS for the video. You can thank Scott Walker and friends for making Wisconsin the butt of so many jokes. And if you want to personally witness a pack of camera-wielding citizens enter the Capitol today and thank them for doing what they can to preserve your right to record government meetings as allowed by state statute, try this 2PM event.

Colbert says, “you won’t see any images of gun-fire at the WI state capitol, because while guns are allowed, cameras are not”
He’s not exactly right here. You see, Robin Vos says there is no contradiction in allowing guns in galleries of Wisconsin’s legislature but not the use of cameras. Because you can bring both in and you can’t use both.

Vos says “You can have a gun in the gallery, but you can’t shoot,” -MJS 10/26

I contend that if somebody gets shot in the face with a camera, they still live. Not necessarily with the other thing.

For more on guns in Wisconsin’s Capitol building try this blue cheddar article which includes what comes out of Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald’s mouth:
“We’ve heard from the other side of the aisle that we want the building to be open and to be able to be here. Well if that’s the case then we also want law abiding citizens to come in and protect themselves.”

Where and how will people pack guns in Wisconsin’s Capitol? Some clues

Thursday’s Assembly Organization Committee meeting – which was supposed to discuss how and where concealed weapons would be allowed in the Assembly chamber – was cancelled. According to channel3000, Walker said he’d release policy on concealed weapons in state buildings today, Friday 10/28. This is a tad bit important because a new conceal carry law in Wisconsin goes into effect on November 1st.

But I attended a 4PM Assembly committee meeting where reporters patiently observed proceedings and then cornered Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald to get clues.

He wound up saying some variation on “law abiding citizens should be able to come in and protect themselves” 3 times. Essentially, he didn’t have any strong feelings one way or the other whether metal detectors should be there but he’s DAMN sure he wants the guns to be there.

Fitzgerald also said [this is from my audio recording which I took while standing behind Fitzgerald’s bouncers, I mean, “staff”]:

“We’ve heard from the other side of the aisle that we want the building to be open and to be able to be here. Well if that’s the case then we also want law abiding citizens to come in and protect themselves.”

In his mind when the Capitol has no metal detectors “the other side of the aisle” wants anybody who could be bringing in a weapon illegally to be there. So if that’s the default position, then if people can bring in conceal carry weapons on November 1st they can protect themselves against all these illegal weapons that are potentially floating in.

“Anybody could walk in the Capitol with a gun right now and could be doing it illegally. As it is right now I would rather have law abiding citizens that go through a course be able to protect themselves than just have somebody up in the gallery do what they can do currently.”

As he walked out, my friend Nicole called out, “Do you live in fear?” He flinched a little but remained silent.

And Whitney-another friend – said, loudly, “Coward.”

Nicole’s video:

Backup link to video

“Come on. All the kids are doing it!”

Channel3000 talked to Walker: “There are plenty of states that allow (conceal and carry) access to public buildings and they have not had problems with that,” Walker said. “We don’t anticipate any problems here in Wisconsin.”

Really? According to channel3000 “Wisconsin would join nine other states that currently allow concealed weapons in their capitols”

Does “plenty”=”9”? Hmmm. Makes me wonder about the accuracy of the “and they have not had problems” portion of the statement.

Assembly looking like a “yes”. Senate looking like a “no”.

Given comments from Assemblyman Fitzgerald, I think there will be guns in the Assembly but given this email from Wellhouse, looks like state senators could pack a gun but not those citizens who come in to observe them:

“Spokesman Andrew Welhouse said in an email on Thursday afternoon the Senate’s organizational committee will vote on a plan to allow hidden weapons on the Senate floor and at committee meetings, but ban them in the Senate galleries.”

Perhaps just sucking up to his NRA friends or being the usual charm-deprived individual he has ALWAYS shown himself to be, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told WISC-TV that if he had it his way, no space inside the Capitol would be off-limits for those who carry concealed weapons.

The Supreme Court hearing room will likely not allow for weapons since the concealed carry law doesn’t allow weapons in courtrooms. There are multiple reports that individual legislators will determine whether weapons will come into their own offices.

In my net browsings, I learned it will be just fine to bring your new conceal carry gun to Robin Vos’ office, and to the offices of Fitzie 1 and 2. But Mike Ellis does not want you to bring a weapon in his office.

So I’m trying to imagine how this will work. I can picture a secretary in an office calling for Capitol police to come and babysit a pistol so a constituent can talk to his legislator. After which the officer will stand in a designated station so the gun-loving citizen can quickly arm himself once again when he comes out of the office before walking through the building? Or will an officer have to escort each citizen between the Capitol police station in the building’s basement and the legislator’s office after checking in each pistol in question?

Whatever works, I guess. Because I wouldn’t want these gun-loving people to feel insecure at any point in their visit.

Image source

Guns to be allowed in most of Wisconsin’s Capitol. What could possibly go wrong?

Not only is a conceal carry gun law about to go into effect November 1st, but our state’s Capitol building will also become a truly welcoming place for gun nuts. Which means it won’t feel as welcoming for the rest of us.

According to MJS, Walker is creating a policy to allow the public to bring guns into most areas of the Capitol building. Predictably, the Wisconsin State Assembly is gung-ho. The Assembly Committee on Organization is to meet tomorrow to set policy on guns for their chamber.
“guns would be allowed on the Assembly floor and in the Assembly viewing galleries, said sources who have been briefed on the plans. That would mean the public could bring guns into the viewing galleries but would still have to adhere to other existing rules including one that bars the use of still cameras and video cameras.”

It’s as if Wisconsin Republicans think that only their friends will bear arms and only their enemies will bear cameras.

The Senate has made no concrete plans yet. Guns will remain off limits to the state Supreme Court hearing room.-source

Assembly Committee on Organization meets Thursday, October 27, 2011
3:15 PM
Assembly Parlor (2nd Floor West)
State Capitol

Committee Members:
Representative Fitzgerald (Chair)
Representative Suder (Vice-Chair)
Representative Knodl
Representative Kramer
Representative Ballweg
Representative Barca
Representative Seidel
Representative Roys

Police violently drag protesters for filming the Assembly? No press. Beer poured on Republican? Massive press.

Both Rep. Mark Radcliffe and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, (D) Kenosha on Tuesday spoke in defense of those filming Assembly activities in the citizens’ gallery seating. However a motion to suspend the rule that forbids members of the public from videotaping proceedings was struck down 60-37. Following, the people filming were forcibly dragged out by troopers, causing at least one to visit Urgent Care following for injuries sustained to his wrist.

Watch the video to see swarming press who have a great interest in information about who poured a beer on Robin Vos the next day, Wednesday September 14th. Meanwhile protesters continue to talk about what they see as the real story: being assaulted by police and being halted from exercising their constitutional right to freedom of speech.

The following is from
“Wisconsin has a LAW ss 19.90 which states “Whenever a governmental body holds a meeting in open session, the body shall make a reasonable effort to accommodate any person desiring to record, film or photograph the meeting.”

Seems pretty straightforward, but the Assembly has a “rule” which bans any and all cameras from the gallery. (Note: see below for actual rule, which does not mention cameras)

There was a recent US circuit court case about filming police where they ruled that citizens have the right to film public officials while in a public space, while they are serving in their public capacity and also included:

“Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest,”

Also seems pretty straight forward, but not in WI with the Fitz’s in charge. People were dragged out of the gallery using pain compliance and handcuffs simply for SILENTLY HOLDING A CAMERA DURING AN OPEN MEETING.” More at

Photos from the SOS education rally in Madison, Wisconsin

It was a hot day folks and I’m beat…so this is a short post.

Today, educators and supporters of public education rallied around the nation and in D.C. in a “Save our Schools March and National Call to Action”. This is the 3rd day of a 4 day event about the crisis public schools are facing in America. Schools suffer budget slashing in every state and a multi-state Tea party/Republican push to route public tax dollars to private charter schools.

To dig in more on public education’s dire situation, see Diane Ravitch’s CNN article from February, “Why America’s Teachers are Enraged” which talks about Madison’s occupied Capitol: “Thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public sector workers have camped out at the Wisconsin Capitol, protesting Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to reduce their take-home pay — by increasing their contribution to their pension plans and health care benefits — and restrict their collective bargaining rights..”.

“For the future of our children, we demand:

Equitable funding for all public school communities
Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
Full public funding of family and community support services
Full funding for 21st century school and neighborhood libraries
An end to economically and racially re-segregated schools.

Read the rest at the official SOS site:











A few more of my photos are at flickr at this link.

I hope to get my videos up here in short order.

Wisconsin Capitol building employee attacks balloon then protester. One witness describes the event.

Update from WSJ: “The protester involved in Monday’s incident told a Capitol police officer that the worker came at her with a knife. She did not appear to be injured, but was holding a blood-smeared paper bag and what looked like popped red heart balloon.

Other protesters who had been attending the daily singalong in the rotunda told the State Journal that the worker said he was sick of removing balloons from the dome and attempted to pop it. They said he apparently stabbed or cut himself in the process.”

I spoke to Jenna who witnessed an attack of a Madison citizen, Leslie, by a man named Ron Blair in the Capitol today. Leslie is a regular noon visitor to the Capitol who sings with a Solidarity Sing Along group and I think she’d call herself a “protester”. Ron Blair is the state’s assistant facilities director [per a recent article]. I don’t think Ron Blair would call me “friend” but I’ve sat in the Capitol with Ron and had an extended friendly conversation with him. There was nothing in our conversation to indicate that Ron was angry or unsettled. I tried to talk politics with him, which didn’t work out. He emphasized that he maintains a non-political viewpoint in his work at the Capitol. Ron at the time was dealing with clean up of the Capitol building after a protester occupation. He was more interested in talking about the types of marble and granite in the building.

I learned about today’s altercation initially through a friend on twitter: @joevittie.
I then noticed a friend Jenna tweeting that she’d seen what really happened.

I thought at first that Ron had stabbed Leslie in the course of trying to pop the balloon she had. It’s my mistake. I misread this tweet:
“@joevittie Leslie is ok but appeared to be in shock. Blair stabbed balloon and tried to push Leslie into women’s room….”

I called Jenna who described the situation:

Jenna says that she was standing with Leslie when Ron approached “out of nowhere”. Leslie was holding a heart-shaped balloon that according to a @joevittie tweet, she had brought to give to a legislator. Jenna says Ron rushed at the balloon and popped it and then darted down a back stairway. In the course of the action Jenna says he did not say anything she could clearly hear, though he may have been mumbling.

Jenna says they were on the 2nd floor of the Capitol and he ran down to the 1st floor. She and Leslie followed close behind yelling at him and asking him why he popped the balloon. Jenna said he stopped at the 1st floor and turned. At this point they were very close, only “a couple of feet away” from Ron. Jenna says Ron lunged at Leslie grabbing her wrists and throwing her into a bathroom door. The force of the lunge was enough to push Leslie into the bathroom and he also came in the room with her. Jenna says that at this point Leslie started to scream and call “Help!”.

Jenna had Leslie’s camera in her hands and struggled to take a photo of Ron, and did. Jenna said that the settings weren’t ready and by the time she managed to take a photo he was leaving the restroom (The camera is with the Capitol police right now.) Jenna says it was only a moment in the restroom and then Ron left running downstairs and out a side entrance – one of the handicapped entrances. Two friends Lance and Matt heard Leslie yelling and were coming. As they approached, Jenna told them to follow Ron while she got a cop. They followed Ron who ran into the Risser Building on Martin Luther King Drive.

Somewhere in the course of the scuffle Ron slashed his hand. I asked Jenna if she saw a knife or any kind of implement and she said no. Enough blood came off of Ron’s hand to drip onto Leslie and to splatter onto a flight of stairs of the Capitol.

Leslie, Jenna, Matt, and Lance have all submitted written statements to the Capitol Police. I asked Jenna if there was anything Ron had said to her or anybody during their visits that would indicate he was angry and she replied “no” but that he was always “grumpy”.

She speculated that he was upset about balloons that have been released in the Capitol in the past week or so.

Leslie is the owner of a shop on State Street. I’ve come to see her as somebody who is often present and working quietly. For example, on the day that collective bargaining rights were eliminated from public employees in Wisconsin, Leslie brought a huge helium balloon attached to a large greeting card to the day’s rotunda gathering. The card was there to sign ceremoniously, wishing Wisconsin well. I know Leslie as the person who was instrumental in coordinating an information and food station at Walkerville that became a welcoming hub for visitors.

I don’t see Leslie as a loud or aggressive or angry protester – though she is certainly not a shy person. I’d see her as the most mature person in the room who makes sure things operate better than they did before.

For the record: Ron Blair’s identity was confirmed by both Joe and Jenna.

Former Senator Dave Zien and Tea Party Create Scene, Attack Solidarity Singer in Capitol Today

Here’s the report that WORT FM did on this. You’ll hear an announcement and then the news picks up at the 1:30 mark.
I’m sharing some notes and photos from a person who was at the Capitol during an assault on a singer from the Solidarity Sing Along group today. She asked that I share none of the names included outside of Zien’s name.
“Today former senator Dave Zien brought his attack dogs to the capitol.

Two of Zien’s associates attempted to cover 1st floor banner holders with their Don’t Tread On Me flag.

**** stepped in to help us and was assaulted by the Tea Party thugs. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt (although **** had his tooth broken by one of Zien’s goons). About a dozen Solidarity Singers gave statements to police, and the two Teabaggers were hauled off in handcuffs.

By sheer coincidence, Zien’s friend (a Milwaukee FOX affiliate) just happened to be there with his camera crew.

Zien was harassing singers earlier on the ground floor of the rotunda by wheeling around haphazardly and yelling, “Walker for President!” He nearly crushed people’s toes with his wheelchair, yet was not cited for this behavior.

Seated: Dave Zien

**** received a citation for Disorderly Conduct. He acted in our defense. The charge should be dropped immediately.”

WORT FM of Madison will include an interview on this event in its 6:30PM Central news show. [You can listen online HERE].
I am feeling a personal pang of sadness, disappointment, and a bit of shame because I grew up in the former senator’s district which covers Chippewa, Clark, part of Dunn, Marathon, and Barron counties. Despite being opposite him on politics, I don’t assume that Zien is a violent kind of guy, though he is known as an outspoken man.
He was in a really rough motorcycle accident in Florida mid-March and people feared he’d die. I was one of many who asked others to think of him at that time and pray for him if they preferred. Dave was born in Chippewa Falls and lives in Eau Claire.

Why we should be like the man who got dragged out of Wisconsin’s Capitol

Police drag a protester out of the Wisconsin Assembly chamber. (Carolos Javier Ortiz / EPA / March 10, 2011)

Please note: I advocate non-violent civil disobedience and only as a last resort.

My boyfriend laughed when he saw this. I didn’t.

I’ve never really identified with letting yourself get dragged out of somewhere, breaking rules, and even risking arrest until this photo came along. But then, I’ve never lived through something like these last 3 weeks in Wisconsin.

When I see this image, I know some people just won’t get this guy.

I do get it. I feel anger, sorrow — and I feel a sense of determination. I think this guy did the right thing and I want to be more like him.

Obviously he’s peaceful.  But breaking the rules. Right now the rules are being rewritten by Walker rapidly to break the public. And when the Wisconsin GOP can not rewrite the rules fast enough, they break ’em.

Just in case you have been watching FOX news up until now I will elaborate. Walker’s administration has violated  the  public and the state and federal constitutions by

  • restricting use of recording and audio devices to include cell phones in the meeting chambers of Wisconsin’s Capitol
  • closing the Capitol building to its public or applying arbitrary rules to accept some and restrict others
  • attempting to require a permit on Capitol grounds when law states that an unlimited number of citizens may assemble there without permit
  • conduct government meetings without even the 2 hour warning required under emergency conditions

Wisconsin’s Capitol building is the public’s. It is where we send people to serve the public, and where now they try to dismantle our public unions and even our public services.

I don’t know that we should all get dragged out by state troopers.  But if  enough of us do not feel so moved to take some additional risks right now, we will be singled out, picked off, and our movement is done.

“Risk” or “rule breaking” may mean breaking social norms by speaking up about politics. Stepping up to a leadership position. Risking confrontation.

Finally, the current  governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, will be gone in 2012. He will either be deposed by a recall or on an express bus to D.C. For all I know, he could be serving time in prison. When he’s gone, I am resolved to be in my Capitol once again drumming with thousands of other regular citizens. And this dragged out protester?

He will stay just as long as he fucking likes.

Feb 24: Noon Vote, Firefighters, Koch Brothers, Amy Goodman

Forgive me for this is a post dashed off quickly. But I want to make sure people know about these events of note for today:

11:30-ish A much-rumored huge gathering of fire fighters will occur at Wisconsin’s capitol. I did call a local firehouse to be told only that it was fairly spontaneous and will be large. Firemen will met at Station Number 1 – 316 W. Dayton St. – 11:30am & following, march two short blocks to the Capitol.

12 Noon- The projected time of an Assembly vote on their version of the earlier Senate version of the Budget Repair [or “Disrepair”] Bill that was the cause of an earlier departure of our 14 Democrat Senators for Illinois.  You can watch events unfold live at Wisconsin Eye – a non-profit “CSPAN” for Wisconsin. Continue reading

Ed Schultz Interviews John Nichols from Madison’s Capitol Square

Ed Schultz talking to John Nichols at the top of East Washington Avenue. I was about 20 feet away and could not see Ed. That was OK. The spirit of the crowd and their great signs made up for that. [below]

Ed got possession of an email from the “Club for Growth” which urges Continue reading