Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Capitol is there for Everyone to...get a citation.

Awhile back I pointed out how a memo from Sen. Scott Fitzgerald warning staffers to avoid the public areas of the Capitol was proof the arrests were meant to intimidate everyone, including innocent bystanders. Here's what I wrote:
WSJ: Fitzgerald warns politicians to not get near protesters … Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s office sent a note to legislative offices warning staff not to congregate along the balcony during the protests. “If you are in the vicinity of the illegal demonstrations that have been taking place over the noon hour in the rotunda, you will be considered part of the protests and are subject to being ticketed,” the message said.
Me: "Fitzgerald is aware that even innocent bystanders at the Capitol are targets for arrest. For a majority party that says they’re trying to protect everyone’s right to visit the Capitol, that’s not what I'm seeing, and leaves no doubt that they're outright lying. What better reason for a judge to find the “protest permits” unconstitutional. It’s impossible to say whose there to protest, and whose just watching, unless that wasn't the point:"
Joe Meiller, a Madison Metro bus driver who brought his two sons to watch the singalong Friday from the balcony, was upset that he was asked to leave by Capitol police.

“We didn’t sing or clap once,” Meiller said. “If I observe a bank robbery nearby, am I a participant because I was nearby?”
Thanks to Democratic Senator Jon Erpenbach, the media is catching on too. WKOW's Tony Galli:

Would it be so crazy if everyone with a citation said they were just watching?
Spectators in the state capitol were warned Wednesday of possible arrest ... as a third week of a crackdown continues. Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) says warning capitol visitors of possible arrest has a chilling effect.

"What kind of message are you sending to the people who want to come and visit the capitol?" says Erpenbach. "If you're having police, (saying) they're going to be arrested if they don't move along, from a public building during the noontime, it's ridiculous."

In an encounter between a spectator and a Capitol Police officer Wednesday, a 27 News crew recorded the officer's admonition to the visitor. "So if you stay here, you could be arrested," the officer told the man.

But in a statement late Wednesday afternoon, Department of Administration spokesperson Stephanie Marquis articulated a different, law enforcement approach.
"Observers will not receive citations," Marquis wrote. 
It's unclear if DOA officials consider certain spectators protest participants as well, or whether police warnings lack teeth and are intended to try to disperse large crowds of spectators.
NOTE: According to another story in the Wisconsin State Journal by Matthew DeFour: "DOA officials declined to discuss why police were warning observers." That's not just amazing, but an indication the Walker administration hasn't come up with an adequate explanation yet. The intention to intimidate is message enough I guess.  

1 comment:

  1. The Republicants apparently want to force the rest of us to regard reality as they do -- there are no singers, and you are not allowed to think there are, much less observe them, which of course you can't because there are no singers.