It’s getting even worse for the ability of the citizens of Wisconsin to be able to freely express themselves with free speech as Americans, as seen with the distortions and aggressive tactics of Madison Capitol Police Chief David Erwin. It is getting to the point where Erwin will need to resign. It is also time for the Tea Party and the MacIver Institute to put up or shut up about whether they actually support the U.S. Constitution or merely use that as cheap window dressing to hide behind their cowardly allegiance to the Koch Brothers. Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, made a statement about the current state of affairs at the Capitol:
The Wisconsin State Capitol Police began ticketing protesters in the Capitol Rotunda last week for holding up signs without a permit. According to a Department of Administration spokesperson, on Monday police issued more tickets both for “unlawful display of a sign and not having a permit.” The citations were served at the protesters home to “avoid confrontation and maintain order at the Capitol.”
Since the extraordinary events of February 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin has stepped up its efforts to protect the free speech rights of all Wisconsin residents at the Capitol and our volunteer legal observers are now at the Capitol Rotunda every day during the noon hour.
David Erwin, the State Capitol Police Chief since July 2012, has had a rocky start. His on-again, off-again, on-again enforcement of regulations governing events and protests in the Capitol Rotunda suggests problems. Either he lacks an understanding of our constitutional rights or is willing to abridge the rights of all Wisconsin residents to peaceable assembly and free speech at the Capitol.
Monday’s tickets are unconstitutional. It is ludicrous to say that it is illegal to hold up a sign or that groups as small as four people need to apply for a permit 72 hours in advance if they are promoting any cause.
The police served the tickets at the protesters homes. This suggests that the police know the identity of many of protesters who regularly exercise their rights at the Capitol. It also suggests that this new enforcement effort is a high priority for the Capitol Police. The ACLU believes that there are better uses for the Capitol Police force’s limited resources.
What is as disturbing as Erwin’s pathological crackdown on freedom is what appears to be outlandish fabrications to supplement his obsession, as indicated in a recent interview with the right-slanted Wisconsin Reporter:
And so we have a group of people that come here, and last week they were holding signs and they are part of this group that, for lack of a better word, are terrorizing people at this Capitol.
wErwin mentioned a scared child and a Red Cross worker at the Capitol that were somehow harassed by the Solidarity Singers. There is no documentation of either event, no photos, no interviews… nothing. If there are records or reports, it would be nice to see them. Obviously, if anyone (besides the Capitol Police) is harassing anyone, it should be condemned.
Stay tuned for updates.