While officials maintain the Capitol remains fully open for public access, one state representative said a request for identification while moving throughout the public space Tuesday is evidence unlawful restrictions are still in place.
Department of Administration spokesperson Tim Donovan said 4,270 members of the public entered the building through both the North Hamilton Street and King Street entrances during normal business hours.
He said no incidents or arrests were reported, and there were generally no lines to enter the building, despite police screening measures he said were similar to airport security and would likely continue into the foreseeable future.
“[The measures] will continue until further notice and will continue until they are no longer needed,” Donovan said.
Around 12:30 p.m., entering the Capitol took about five minutes as individuals were asked to remove jackets and metal objects before law enforcement officials hand searched bags and wanded all members of the public.
While DOA officials maintain the Capitol is fully open to the public, Rep. Kelda Roys, D-Madison, said she was forced to show identification for the second time in two weeks while attempting to enter the office of Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha.
Roys said she was running late for a leadership meeting when a state trooper asked her to present identification to proceed to Barca’s office outside of the Assembly lobby.
When she kept moving, Roys said the officer chased her until she was able to show her ID after reaching Barca’s office.
She also said although there is another court order that requires the building remain open to the public, “ludicrous” barriers are still preventing full public access to the Capitol, including the ability of citizens to reach the offices of elected officials.
“The Capitol is nowhere near as open as it has been,” Roys said.
Roys added while her office continues to receive supportive messages from the public, officials have been overwhelmed by requests about access to the Capitol and have devoted a substantial amount of time fielding questions about how to enter the building.
Protesters were also able to begin retrieving signs removed from inside the Capitol, which will continue until 4 p.m. Friday at the Department of Health and Family Services building, a DOA statement said.
Helmut Knies, collection development coordinator, said after the official pickup time has ended, the Wisconsin Historical Society will catalog a number of the remaining protest signs as important historical artifacts for the state’s labor movement.
He said the Historical Society will make selections based on content, format and fragility to be cataloged and preserved in the museum’s collection, although there are currently no plans for an exhibition.
“The protests have been a remarkable and very unusual event,” Knies said. “They are important to the last 50 years of Wisconsin history and, as part of that larger picture, we believe the signs need to be documented.”
He said about 60 members of the public had retrieved their signs near the end of the day on Tuesday, although hundreds of signs remained unclaimed.
Chief Curator Paul Bourcier also confirmed society officials planned to meet with a representative from Smithsonian Wednesday about collecting signs, but are not yet sure what role the institute will play.