Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Capitol arrests see sharp decline in recent months

Despite the continued
presence of singing protestors occupying the Capitol without a permit, citations handed out by the Capitol Police Department took a dive in the month of November.

After a busy September and
October, Capitol Police handed out only three citations in November, according to the
most recent data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Administration, but the reasons why are not quite clear.

Capitol Police Chief David
Erwin decided in August to clamp down on those protesting inside the state
Capitol without a permit. One group, called the Solidarity Singers, visits the
rotunda to sing in protest of Gov. Scott Walker from noon to 1 p.m. every
weekday and the chorus has earned the group a fair amount of attention from police since the crack down.


The singers have largely refused to follow the cost-free permit requirement, which led to 19 citations in
September and 36 in October, according to the DOA.

Under the rules, any group
of more than four people requires a permit for an indoor event.

A multitude of citations for
holding signs over railings, which is prohibited in the building, were also
given out in September and October, according to the DOA.

Solidarity Singers member Brandon
Barwick said the sing-a-long has continued as usual throughout November with a
cadre of protestors even appearing on Thanksgiving, yet only three citations
have been handed out. According to DOA numbers, nobody has been cited for sign
misconduct in November.

In an email to The Badger Herald, DOA spokesperson Stephanie Marquis did not
address why the amount of citations decreased.

Barwick said he thinks the
drop in tickets is in reaction to the group’s intention to challenge the
constitutionality of every citation.

“I think they realized
that they screwed up,” he said. “We have a lot of really talented attorneys
that we’re working with, and we’re ready to take every single ticket to jury
trial. I think their tactics of scaring us off or just getting us to stop
protesting haven’t worked.”

According to the Wisconsin
Citizens Media Cooperative, a citizen journalist website assembled by
protestors, the total amount of protesting-related citations recorded as of Nov. 23 were 59 in September, 39 in October and three in November.

To Barwick’s knowledge,
those November numbers have not changed in the days since. He said he has
received tickets in the mail anywhere from a few days to one to three weeks after the
citation was initially written, so the number could change.

According to the DOA, the last ticket written was Nov. 19,  a citation issued to Barwick.

American Civil Liberties
Union of Wisconsin spokesperson Stacy Harbaugh said while it is
interesting the ticket-writing has gone down, the total amount of citations
given over the past few months is still “shocking.”

She said the ACLU is glad
to see the singers challenging the tickets.

“We really hope that it
will be a situation where a judge will recognize that people’s constitutional
rights are being violated when they receive these tickets.”

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