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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Abridging the First Amendment in Wisconsin: Capitol Police Style ROJS News: Op/Ed

Photo Credit: wjbc.com via Google Images
The right to free speech and to peacefully assemble was once again abridged in the Wisconsin Capitol today, as regular, peaceful protesters were subjected to arrest and/or issued citations for holding signs inside the Wisconsin Capitol. 

This battle was previously fought won by protesters in 2011, after many protesters received numerous tickets for peacefully holding a sign in Capitol building. In the past, tickets issued for this reason were dismissed, as the issuance of such tickets is unconstitutional and also violates The Wisconsin State Constitution. 

Protesters have become a regular fixture at the Capitol building in Madison, ever since the Wisconsin Uprising in February 2011. A regular group of protesters continues to have a constant presence at the capitol, keeping pressure on lawmakers while also trying to restore democracy back in Wisconsin. 

Today, under newly Gov. Walker appointed militant Police Chief Erwin, at least 7 protesters were arrested for doing what they have been doing for the past 20 months, the 'dangerous' activity of holding signs inside the Capitol building and exercising their First Amendment rights.  

Over the past few weeks there had been rumors of a "Capitol Crackdown" coming and on September 3rd the Madison Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild issued a Press Release in response to the new restrictions on free speech that Chief Erwin planned to enforce. 

"Madison-area attorney members of the National Lawyers Guild remind 
Wisconsinites, Capitol Police Chief David Erwin, and the Wisconsin state Department of Administration 
that our State Capitol Building is a constitutionally protected public forum for protest. Chief Erwin, who 
has threatened to enforce recent changes in state facilities access policies, will be infringing the rights of 
individuals to protest and petition their government."

"Attorneys affiliated with the Madison National Lawyers Guild stand ready to defend anyone who suffers 
arrest as the result of over-zealous enforcement of the Capitol access policy"   

Chief Erwin who replaced former Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs, has a different more militant  approach in running the Capitol Police force and dealing with protesters, but regardless of what he thinks or feels, his opinions of how things should run in the capitol do not trump the US Constitution or the Wisconsin Constitution. Furthermore, by his blatant disregard of both the State and Federal Constitution, which he and the rest of the police force are sworn to uphold, it appears that he is violating his sworn oath of office by clearly abridging the citizens Constitutionally Protected right to free speech and  right to assemble.

It is this authors opinion that Chief Erwin and crew at the Capitol are treading on thin ice already, and that the tickets they are issuing do not hold the merit of being upheld compared to; say if

a Class Action formal complaint was filed from the protesters against the Capitol Police and Chief Erwin, for violating their sworn oath they took when having the privilege to wear a badge and became Officer's of the Law.

The only way I could possibly see a Judge uphold any sanctions leveled against the protesters is if the Judge  happens to be a "activist Judge" working on the side of Gov.Walker rather than the side of justice-which is not hard believe with the political stench of the Walker Administration that still reeks across in Wisconsin and throughout the Capitol Building.

Stay tuned as this is FAR from over...


VIDEO Courtesy of Whitney Thid:






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