Wisconsin Activist Arrested For Silently Holding A Sign Saying “Stephen Colbert”

Author: February 21, 2012 10:48 pm

The Wisconsin State Assembly has become nothing short of a circus.  You have Democrats speaking on bill after bill to a room where no one is listening.  Republicans are usually silent and rarely talk on anything.  The reasoning for this is simple.  The norm in Wisconsin legislation has drastically changed.  There was once a time when all bills would be considered and where legislators examined problems with bills and made amendments to fix them.

There was a time when amendments made a bill better.  But that time is long gone.  Instead what we see, day in and day out, is a legislative body where one side attacks, the other side stays silent and pays them no attention, and the Governor gets whatever he wants rubber stamped.  If there is a challenge we have to hope it can be raised in Federal Court where even judges appointed by Ronald Reagan have shown blatant disgust for the way this legislature conducts business.  If it is raised in state court, the GOP has made it clear they have the votes to secure any legislation as legal in the Supreme Court regardless of the merits of the case.


All of this is combined with childish antics by Speaker Pro Tempore, Bill Kramer, like turning his voice into one of a boxing announcer to moderate debates between members.  In fact, when Kramer cleared the Gallery to stifle constitutional dissent when the Mining bill was rammed through the Assembly, Kramer admitted himself that he was able to get away with anything he wanted in school.  This combined with wealth he has hardly ever had to work for make for a man who looks, talks, and acts like the class bully.  And when it comes to constitutional rights Kramer stands by his assault.  He has banned signs and videotaping from the gallery.  He has also made the decision to allow concealed firearms.  Every single time an individual has held a sign or silently taped in the Assembly Gallery the result was an arrest.  People have been arrested for holding signs with pictures of Jesus, pie, and even copies of the Constitution.  Despite this, today marked a first in the suppression of rights.

I entered the Assembly and upon my arrival, as is customary, the number of police went from two to three.  Usually I walk in to a clear gallery with anywhere between five and seven police, all waiting for me to hold my sign or film.  Today there were three and in a separate gallery so I was intrigued.  I pulled out my sign which was an eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper that simply read “Stephen Colbert”.  My first intent was to reiterate that they have been ridiculed for many of the things they have done this year.  The second was to see if Bill Kramer truly thought Colbert’s name should be illegal.  The answer was yes.  The page actually allowed me to hold my sign for a while as seven more police popped up out of nowhere.  He then asked me to put down my sign to which I politely refused stating it was a political statement and protected under the First Amendment.  He then motioned to the officer who asked me to leave.  I tied him up in questions for a good minute or two then left with the officers after being informed I was under arrest.  I was taken to the basement where the officers informed me I was being arrested for Disorderly Conduct for refusing the order of an officer.

I have been arrested a total of 29 times during this struggle.  I have never once been told what I was under arrest for, so the explanation was more than welcome.  But what happened next was very interesting.  They made a phone call as they stated (and it was clear) they didn’t know what to do next.  I held my sign knowing I would likely be arrested.  I am under bond conditions that state that any arrest in the Capitol, constitutional or not is considered bail jumping and I am to be taken to jail.  I stood up for my rights knowing this so I was prepared with all of my meds and a plan so my dog got walked while I was in jail.  At the end of the phone call, the officers said that, given as I didn’t resist, they would unarrest me and ban me from the Gallery.  This actually happens quite a bit here in Wisconsin.  And so the fight continues.

One day longer!  One day stronger!

Jeremy Ryan

Executive Director

Defending Wisconsin PAC

jryan@defendingwisconsin.org

[Editor's Note: Donations made through this post go to the author, not the website]

Note: Segway Jeremy Ryan has become a full-time member of the protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Formerly a businessman, he gave up his business to join the fight for the middle class in the State of Wisconsin. Through videos and writings he has informed hundreds of thousands of people about what was going on at the Wisconsin State Capitol once the mainstream media had mostly abandoned the protests. His full-time activism is completely funded by the people. If you would like to help out please click here.

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