DOA vs. Wisconsin Citizens: Radically Restricted use of Wisconsin Capitol Building Unveiled

This DOA policy change is aimed at cracking down on freedoms in the Capitol building, especially protests, and specifically what I’ve been told is the world’s longest running labor protest, the Solidarity Sing Along. Here are the main points from a 22 page DOA policy for use of Capitol and state buildings of Wisconsin which I’ve heard goes into effect January 1st, 2012 Dec. 17 after a “an education period”.

Starting with most WTF policy point first:
*No civil legal recourse is available for death, injury, damage or theft of property that a Wisconsin citizen may experience in a state facility. The state and its departments, employees, agents, are “held harmless” for all suits, damages, claims, or other liabilities related to death,injury,damage, or theft of property. [Very nice for any law enforcement that might like to toss you on the floor or twist your arm, for example.]

*Helium balloons are not allowed in the Capitol. [On the bright side, this reduces the odds of a staffer trying to come at your balloon with a knife]

*Where a “public area” is can change at any time and the only areas deemed public are the ground and 1st floors of the Capitol. [Damn capricious.]

*All “events” must have a permit but for “spontaneous” events and spontaneous events must occur in response to a “triggering” event which occurred in the previous week or is occurring. Events that are advertised by social media and other means 7 or more days before the event are not “spontaneous”. [Republicans are providing so many triggers for protest, this isn’t a big deal…]

*Vandalism, theft, loss, breakage determined to be caused by the event participants will be charged to them. [A deterrent given the previous $7.5 million dollar estimate scrawled on notepaper]

*A rally is defined as 4 or more people. [We’re talking barbershop quartets and the Raging Grannies, protesters in matching shirts–just any group of people that looked remotely “together”. Here’s a workaround: look like lobbyists. They’re guaranteed entry any time.]

*Events held during working hours, 8-12 and 1-4, will be under 90 decibels. [for comparison, a vacuum cleaner reaches approx. 80 decibels. 90 decibels is roughly equivalent to a shouted conversation.] But the policy states “any sound should be as low as possible”.

*The charge for extra law enforcement will be charged to the protesters at $50/hour for Capitol police and at whatever other law enforcement charge for reimbursement and the charges incurred may be required up front before the permit is granted. [Wealthy protesters are alright. Poor-not OK. See previous note about lobbyists.]

*No signs affixed to any walls,statuary,trees,windows, etc.

*Permits are required on the state grounds if over 100 participants are expected.

From the S.S.Along facebook page–and I assume this is Chris Reeder writing: “I have been in touch with the ACLU, and am working to obtain legal counsel. I will most likely be sitting down with a DOA lawyer at some point and discussing this. I’ve also let my State Rep. (the fantastic Chris Taylor) and Sen. Larson’s office know about this….
My current opinion on getting a permit has not changed. We have been protesting at the Capitol every single weekday since March 11, well over 200 times now, without a permit. I firmly believe that what we are doing is protected speech, and occupying the rotunda (politely, joyfully, peacefully, and harmoniously) without a permit has been one of the central tenets of what the sing along has been about since March…

Suggestions on other actions to take:
Call or email your State Senator and State Rep. Make sure they know about this and encourage them to take action to protect our free speech.

Write a letter to the editor of any of the Wisconsin papers. Make sure they know about this attack on free speech by Walker and the DOA.”

This is a test of the emergency free speech system.

Ben Masel is the guy that gathered this small band of rabble-rousers in the Capitol. It’s worth watching this to hear Ben yelling outside Walker’s office. And of course he’s a wonderful speaker enjoying the freedom and the theatrics of what we were doing.

I also value what Jeremy has to say here.

Tuesday Jeremy Ryan and a 2nd person were arrested for holding a sign on the 1st floor of the Capitol building. On Wednesday, no people were arrested for doing the same thing. There were 10-12 of us there, including photographer Phil, me, Jeremy Ryan of DefendingWisconsin.org, and Ben.  Large view of video.

After we were done on the 1st floor, we visited reporters in the press room. They said they wouldn’t cover our activities unless we got arrested.

Jeremy did get arrested the day before. They told him they wouldn’t talk to him until his day in court.

Errr…. Alrighty.