Singers, Spectators, Tourists Arrested And Threatened By Capitol Police In Wisconsin (VIDEO)

Illegal singing in Wisconsin

Watch Out, Song Birds: In Wisconsin, not only are singing and clapping apparently illegal, you can also get arrested for just WATCHING people sing and clap. Photo screen captured from YouTube video by arthurkr222.

Over the past week in Madison, Wisconsin, dozens of citizens have been arrested for singing, for clapping for watching singing and clapping or even for simply being present in the state Capitol Building when someone else was singing or clapping or watching singing or clapping. It’s a situation that can only be described as big brother on steroids.

In a video posted by arthurkr222 on youtube on July 26, State Capitol Police Chief David Erwin is seen introducing himself to visitors of the capitol over a Long Range Acoustic Device 1000x:

“This is State Capital Police Chief David Erwins. I have determined that your group or event does not have the required permit. I am declaring this an unlawful event.”

Erwin is met with jeers and boos from those who are gathered in Capitol Building. He orders the people in the building to disperse or be subject to arrest. Some of the people in the building are there to participate in the daily Solidarity Sing Along, which has been held since March, 2011. Others are there on official business and still others are there simply to tour the State Capital Building.

The Wisconsin State Capitol building is a National Historic Landmark. That’s important because on July 10th a Federal judge quoted the state’s own words, words which were used to help determine the building’s status as a landmark of this nature:

The soaring rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol is designed to induce its citizenry to be, as individuals, among the “resources of Wisconsin.” Whereas some statehouses are maintained apart from the urban fabric, the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda functions, both literally and symbolically, as a city center and is fully utilized as a public space to which all have claim.

It was an important case, in which a citizen named Michael Kissick challenged Governor Scott Walker’s requirements that citizens obtain a permit before speaking or holding rallies in the Wisconsin State Capital Building. The judge agreed with Mr. Kissick and stated that Walker’s rules appear to be an infringement on first amendment rights, not to mention an infringement on the rights of every citizen to engage and participate in the workings of his or her government.

The judge, William Conley, the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, issued an injunction prohibiting Wisconsin officials from “(1) distinguishing based on the content of the speech between “rallies” and other events for permitting purposes inside the Capitol and (2) enforcing the permit requirement for gatherings expected to draw 20 or fewer persons inside the Capitol rotunda itself.”

Following the ruling, rather than heed the words of the judge, capital police have been arresting or threatening to arrest tourists, senior citizens, preachers, teenagers and anyone else who happens to be present when there is singing in the building. Mary Macadam, Wisconsin citizen and activist told me:

 The argument is two-fold. First, the governor has no right to prevent people from assembling in the Capitol building. Second, the Solidarity Singers are not an organized group. It is frequently the same people, however, anyone is free to come and go and join or not. There is no actual leader of this ‘group’. there is a spokesman.

Spectators and observers are now being labeled as participants in “unlawful events” as the video highlights. Arthurkr222 describes how Capital police carry out the arrests, as random at best,

Groups of officers would march into the rotunda and seemingly randomly select 3-5 people and cuff them and bring them downstairs. They did this every 8-12 minutes.

The video also shows people on the 2nd floor, nowhere near the area where the singers are gathered, being ordered to leave the building or face arrest.

Here’s the video: