Thursday, September 6, 2012

Walker Clamps down on First Amendment Rights, puts a $200 Price Tag on Protests.

This stunning story greeted me this morning:
On September 5, 2012 the Wisconsin Capitol Police arrest 8 people and charge them with "Unlawful display of sign"
Is this even allowed under the state constitution, and how long will it be before someone finally challenges this outrageous restriction? Want to hold a sign up supporting the Red Cross, forget it.
Shit Scott Walker Is Doing To My State:"Two of the “signs” were actually t-shirts being distributed by the organization Muslims for Life that helped to promote the American Red Cross blood drive taking place on the first floor. Another sign said, “We ♥Blood Donors,” and yet another was a copy of Article I, Section 4, of the Wisconsin Constitution, which reads: “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government or any department thereof shall never be abridged.”
I don't know why a legal challenge wasn't attempted when the rules were first established. Now many of those arrested and fined $200 have to shell out their hard earned cash to the new Walker authority.

YouTube channel Arthurkr222 had this incredible video of the arrests:

Marquette University's law school posted this analysis:
One response to the criticism of the new DOA policy has been to compare the DOA policy to the rules governing demonstrations at the United States Capitol building. the U.S. Capitol building is not considered a public forum, while the Wisconsin State Capitol is. The expression of political speech receives the greatest protection under the First Amendment when it takes place in a public forum. The bottom line is that it makes a difference for the constitutional analysis of the new DOA policy that the Wisconsin State Capitol is a public forum. Might the legislators in Madison pass a bill declaring that the Wisconsin State Capitol is no longer a public forum? Not really, because once a location has become a public forum by tradition the government may not arbitrarily remove that status.

As I previously wrote, the new DOA policy is overbroad because it allows fees to be imposed on the indigent as a condition of protesting, it vests unbounded discretion in the Capitol police to determine whether to impose advance fees for security costs, and it requires permits from small groups of four or more protesters. These restrictions fail to meet the strict standards used to evaluate limitations on speech in a public forum. Even in a nonpublic forum like the U.S. Capitol, the federal courts have enjoined attempts to prevent small groups from engaging in non-disruptive protests without a permit. Rather than continue in its attempts to justify restrictions that indefensibly infringe upon the First Amendment rights of citizens, the DOA should withdraw its new policy and start from scratch.
One protester held up a blank piece of paper and was told to take it down. Sounds the beginnings of a worthwhile protest; show-up with blank paper or cardboard, in essence, not a sign and walk around the capital sight seeing.

1 comment:

Freewayblogger said...

Y'all should do what I do:

It'd take about four of you to reach half the people in the State.