Wisconsin: Walker tries to ban protest signs, 200 show up to protest with signs [View all]
If you've not been following this story, Scott Walker and his henchmen have been trying to limit free speech, arresting anyone in the capitol who brings a sign or wears a T-shirt with a message. Eight arrests were made earlier in the week.
So what happens?
Thanks to Chief Erwin and his saber rattling, more than two hundred sign-wielding singers showed up today to sing in the Peoples House.
State Rep. Chris Taylor showed up and told us that she met with Chief Erwin and someone from the Department of Administration this morning. After they refused to give her specific information on what behavior is and isnt acceptable in the Capitol building, they walked out of the meeting.
Rep. Peter Barca today posted a letter Rep. Taylor sent to Chief Erwin after the meeting regarding her still-unanswered questions:
When I asked about the specific conditions you were considering in determining whether an individual needed a permit or when making an arrest, you stated that these determinations were being made on a case-by-case basis and refused to articulate specific factors that would be considered. Instead, you and Ms. Coomer [from the DOA] recommended that anyone considering holding a sign call the Capitol police to inquire whether a permit would be needed. This gives me grave concern that the public is not being provided adequate notice about what conduct you are prohibiting and under what specific legal authority you are acting. Further, this subjective manner of making permitting and arrest determinations can easily lead to abuse, with the result being that constitutionally protected political speech is being improperly silenced.
Rep. Taylor also expressed gratitude that there are still courts that will act to protect citizens freedom of speech. She held up a copy of this weeks court ruling by Dane County Judge Frank Remington stating that § Adm. 2.07(2), prohibiting displays (under which the recent citations were issued), doesnt apply to handheld signs, but rather only to freestanding exhibits.
The atmosphere today was boisterous and jovialits always great to see so many of our friends gathered together in the Peoples House. But there was also a serious side to our signs and our singing and our presence. We highly value our right to free speech, and were willing to defend it when its threatened. The Capitol police have a duty to uphold the law, the law that guarantees that the right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.