If anyone has ever witnessed those who participated in the Wisconsin Uprising protests at the State Capitol building during the Fitzwalkerstan Era, it was obvious that the events were peaceful. With tens of thousands of participants voicing their concerns and First Amendment Rights, there was practically no violence from the protestors with a few incidents from Walker provocateurs who attacked the protestors. Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs worked with the situation in a fair fashion during those times.
Now that Tubbs has resigned to become Dane County’s emergency management director, there is now a new Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief, David Erwin. It appears that Erwin may want to enforce the Walker Administrations’ Department of Administration policies regarding Capitol use permits, how far in advance of the event they must apply for, what bonds they must post and what police or damage costs they must pay. There are many reasons why these policies are unconstitutional.
Erwin, a 10-year member of the Marines hired by state Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, worked for 16 years in the State Patrol. He brings to his new job a strict sense of discipline and formality.
He soon will have Capitol Police officers wearing official hats and is considering updating the uniform. He also got the Department of Justice to agree to handle the civil cases coming out of arrests at the Capitol, a move meant to deal with the slew of cases left unprosecuted by the Dane County District Attorney’s Office.
Erwin would not say exactly when the crackdown will begin, but the move seems at least partially aimed at protesters such as the “Solidarity Singers,” a group of people who gather four days a week in the Rotunda to sing songs of opposition to Gov. Scott Walker.
In December, the Department of Administration (DOA) instituted a rule that required groups of four or more to get permits to protest at the Capitol. Tubbs took a lenient approach to the singers, allowing them to check daily with police before singing. Erwin plans to follow the book a little more closely.
“We have to manage this space,” he said. “People love this building. And they want to come here, and some want to petition the government, and that’s great. I support that 100 percent. Just get a permit.”
The DOA has issued 355 permits this year, and denied only two. Last year, the department issued more than 400 permits.
Harbaugh said Monday that Tubbs never enforced the “four-person” rule because it was “ridiculous.”
A rally by the Solidarity Singers on August 28 at Noon at the Capitol will perhaps be a test of how far Erwin will go with enforcing the DOA laws. Stay tuned for an update.
Feel free to print this when going to the Capitol to protest and/or join in the festivities.
The event went along well without any disturbances. A good time was had by all!