UPDATE: DOJ responds to sing-along cost-benefit request

By: Kristin Mazur; Rachelle Baillon Email
By: Kristin Mazur; Rachelle Baillon Email
More Video...

UPDATED Thursday, March 27, 2014 --- 4:40 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state attorney says legislators decided maintaining order in the state Capitol outweighs the costs of enforcing access rules.

Demonstrators have been gathering in the Capitol almost daily since 2011 to sing songs criticizing Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Capitol Police issued hundreds of citations against the singers for gathering without a permit between July 2012 and October, when Walker's administration ended the crackdown.

Dane County Circuit Judge Peter Anderson asked DOJ in January to provide a cost-benefit analysis of pursuing so many citations.

Assistant Deputy Attorney General Dan Lennington responded on Thursday with a letter to Anderson. He didn't offer any numerical data, saying instead that legislators concluded the benefit of access rules that protect Capitol visitors outweighs enforcement costs and prosecutors have great discretion on what cases to pursue.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

___________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, February 5, 2014 --- 8:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A judge has struck down permit rules being used to prosecute outstanding tickets against Wisconsin Capitol protesters.

A Dane County judge Wednesday dismissed a ticket against Michael Crute.

The judge found state rules requiring small groups of protesters in the statehouse to obtain a permit were unconstitutional.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1fvZEqG ) reports the ruling has a limited effect because of a settlement in a prior case.

To settle a federal free speech lawsuit, Gov. Scott Walker's administration agreed in October to pay more than $88,000 in attorneys fees and drop its requirement that larger groups protesting in the Capitol receive a permit.

However, the administration and the Wisconsin Department of Justice have continued to pursue outstanding citations issued before the settlement.

The state Justice Department is reviewing the ruling.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATED Friday, August 30, 2013 --- 2:26 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker's administration has granted protesters a permit to gather in the state Capitol for three days next month.

Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch says Tom Kasper of Madison requested a permit for the singers. The application asked for a permit with no end date.

Huebsch said in a letter to Kasper that DOA interpreted the application for a perpetual permit. Huebsch said that would conflict with other uses in the Capitol but did grant the request for Sept. 9, Sept. 11 and Sept. 12.

Protesters have been gathering in the Capitol rotunda for more than two years. They refuse to get a permit because they feel they're exercising their free speech rights. Police launched a crackdown on them last month and have made scores of arrests.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

________________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, August 30, 2013 --- 9:54 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A protester arrested at the Wisconsin Capitol has been released from jail with no charges filed.

Twenty-two-year-old Damon Terrell was arrested at the Capitol on Monday and spent three days in jail. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Friday that Terrell had been released on a signature bond and barred from being on the Capitol grounds while his case is pending.

Terrell had been held on tentative charges of felony battery and misdemeanor resisting or obstructing. He is accused of injuring a Capitol Police officer as he was arrested during the daily singalong.

Protesters have been gathering at noon at the Capitol for more than two years to sing songs protesting Gov. Scott Walker.

It is up to District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to decide whether formal charges will be filed.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, August 28, 2013 --- 6:34 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says protesters at the Capitol should "follow the rules" and get permits.

Walker restated his position Wednesday as Capitol Police arrested a prominent union leader during the daily lunchtime singalong.

Wisconsin State Employees Union Executive Director Marty Beil was led away in handcuffs.

Protesters have been gathering in the rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years to sing songs critical of Walker and his policies.

Walker says he doesn't care if people protest, but his opponents need to follow the same rules as others who gather in the Capitol.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Walker spoke to journalists following a meeting with members of an economic development group in Milwaukee.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

________________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, August 28, 2013 --- 3:40 p.m.

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray has posted a blog post concerning off-duty officers attending sing-alongs at the Capitol.

He says it appears that the officers did not violate any departmental policy.

Here is the full text of the blog post, along with a link to the policy mentioned.

"I have received communications in the past 24 hours regarding off-duty Madison Police officers participating in a singing event inside the State Capitol. Some have been supportive, some have not. This seems to be an opportune time to provide insight into the Madison Police Department's policy on this issue. It can be found on our website under Policy 4-1000. Certainly I do not condone our officers violating criminal laws or MPD policies, but I do support their right to engage in political and other protected First Amendment related activities when off-duty. The officers, who sang yesterday, do not appear to have violated any departmental policies. They were not functioning as MPD officers, but as individual citizens expressing personal beliefs."

________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, August 28, 2013 --- 1:53 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have arrested a prominent union leader during a protest in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

Capitol Police arrested Wisconsin State Employees Union Executive Director Marty Beil shortly after the protest began on Wednesday, leading him away in handcuffs.

Protesters have been gathering in the rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years to sing songs against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The sing-alongs are a remnant of massive demonstrations at the Capitol in 2011 as lawmakers passed a Walker bill that stripped public works of their union rights.

Police launched a crackdown on the singers last month after a judge ruled police can require groups of more than 20 to get a permit to gather in the Capitol. They've made more than 300 arrests so far.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

__________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, August 28, 2013 --- 9:36 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Security and law enforcement experts are criticizing Republican Gov. Scott Walker's administration's efforts to arrest protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

Protesters have been gathering in the rotunda almost daily to sing anti-Walker songs. Capitol Police launched a crackdown on them in July for assembling without a permit. Officers have made more than 300 arrests so far. On Monday police for the first time tackled a protester and hauled him away.

University of Wisconsin-Madison law school professor and police procedure expert Michael Scott tells the Wisconsin State Journal that officers' tactics are enflaming the situation. U.S. Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Terry Gainer says arresting protesters only makes officers targets.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration, which oversees the Capitol Police, didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_________________________________________________

UPDATED Tuesday, August 27, 2013--6:20p.m.

MADISON--The familiar songs reverberated around the Capitol rotunda, but today a few new voices joined the chorus. "Listen, I'm here off-duty," said Detective Brian Austin, of the Madison Police Department. "I'm expressing my own viewpoints; I'm not speaking on behalf of my agency."

Austin spent his day off showing support for the solidarity singers. The group has faced numerous citations in recent weeks for violating a new policy that requires permits for groups of 20 or more. "I feel that Wisconsin's lost its way," he said. "....By law and tradition this building has been the most public of all public forums in the state of Wisconsin"

Austin was joined by fellow off-duty officer David Dexheimer. He said if the recent crackdown was meant to dispel the singers--it's backfiring. "It was only after the arrests started happening that it grew back to these numbers," said Dexheimer. "So in fact if the goal is to stifle the sing-a-long the opposite is happening and that's direct cause of the police action."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Administration said Capitol police officers uphold the law--as all law enforcers do.

Dexheimer thinks they're being placed in a tough spot. "It's a real direct line from the officers down here who are forced to make these arrests right up to the governor's office," he said. "And that's why I think these arrests are politically motivated and I feel for those officers who are being put into that situation."

The officers we spoke with were not given citations during the hour-long event. However, 10 citations were handed out to other participants.

A spokesman for the Madison Police Department declined to comment on the activities of off-duty officers.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATED Tuesday, August 27, 2013 --- 5:11 p.m.

Some off-duty Madison Police officers joined the noontime singers at the Capitol Tuesday.

The officers say they were there to show solidarity with the singers.

They made it clear they weren't representing the Madison Police Department, but say they feel recent arrests of the protesters qualify as a constitutional overreach.

The officers that NBC15 spoke with were not given citations during the hour-long event.

However, 10 citations were handed out to other participants.

A spokesperson for the Madison Police Department would not comment on the activities of the off-duty officers.

Sheriff Dave Mahoney was also in the rotunda today. He says he was there as a witness, not to advocate for either side.

_______________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, August 26, 2013 --- 4:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have carried two protesters out of the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

A state Department of Administration spokeswoman said in an email that officers told the men to leave the area on Monday. She says both refused and actively resisted during arrest. She didn't elaborate.

Police piled on both on them and carried them out. The spokeswoman says one officer was injured but didn't offer details. She had no immediate comment when asked for specifics in a follow-up email.

Protesters have been gathering in the rotunda almost daily to sing songs against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Capitol Police launched a crackdown on them in late July for not having a permit.

The protesters insist they're exercising free speech rights. Police have arrested nearly 300 of them as of Aug. 20.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

___________________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, August 26, 2013 --- 2:56 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have carried a protester out of the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

Officers arrested the man and carried him from the rotunda to their basement headquarters as other protesters filmed them. It was unclear what may have precipitated the incident. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration, which controls the Capitol Police, didn't immediately return a message.

Protesters have been gathering in the rotunda almost every day for more than two years to sing songs against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Capitol Police launched a crackdown on them in July after a federal judge ruled officers can require large groups to obtain a permit to use the space.

The protesters say they don't need a permit to exercise free speech rights. Police have arrested scores of them over the last month.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

UPDATED Tuesday, August 13, 2013 --- 2:38 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have arrested more protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says police issued 20 citations on Tuesday for gathering in the rotunda without a permit.

Protesters have been showing up in the rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years to sing songs against Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Capitol Police -- which are controlled by Walker's administration -- launched a crackdown on the singers last month after a federal judge ruled officers can require large groups to get a permit to gather in the building.

The protesters contend they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. Police been making almost daily arrests in the rotunda since the crackdown began, citing scores of singers over the last three weeks.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, August 12, 2013 --- 4:23 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- For the first time in days police haven't arrested any protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

State Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says someone took out a permit to use the space Monday. It was unclear exactly who obtained the permit. Marquis didn't return a follow-up message seeking details.

David Dexheimer says he got a permit to use a 10-foot-by-4-foot space on the rotunda's balcony because he didn't want to get arrested for observing the protest. But he says the permit applied only to that space, not the entire rotunda.

Protesters have been singing songs against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the rotunda almost daily since 2011. Capitol Police launched a crackdown on them last month for not having a permit.

The protesters contend they don't need a permit.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

__________________________________________

UPDATED Saturday, August 10, 2013 --- 8:52 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- More than 40 protesters arrested by Capitol Police during a crackdown on a daily sing-along conducted without permits have pleaded not guilty, and 33 have requested jury trials.

A Wisconsin State Journal report (http://bit.ly/13r78oJ ) says police have issued 223 citations or recommended charges in the last two weeks against people participating in the noontime Solidarity Sing-along.

The protesters sing against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Police began arresting them last month after a federal judge ruled officers can require large groups to get a permit to gather in the building. The protesters refuse to apply for permits, saying they shouldn't need the government's permission to protest the government.

State Justice Department spokesman Steven Mean says a judge will determine whether people will be tried individually or as a group.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATED Friday, August 9, 2013 --- 4:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have made another round of arrests in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

Protesters have been gathering in the rotunda during the noon hour almost daily for more than two years to sing against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Police began arresting them on July 24 after a federal judge ruled officers can require large groups to get a permit. The protesters have refused to apply for any permits. Police have issued them more than 190 tickets so far.

The singers sang on the Capitol lawn on Friday, as usual on that day of the week. Shortly before the noon hour ended several dozen moved into the rotunda. Police arrested at least three of them. State Department of Administration officials say officers issued a total five citations for not having a permit.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_______________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, August 8, 2013--6:10p.m.
MADISON--For this group of protesters, regular citations are viewed as a badge of honor on the battlefield for the first amendment--and getting hauled off in handcuffs garners you a spot on the "Capitol Honor Roll". But interest renewed in their daily sing-a-long when a video surfaced on YouTube earlier this week, showing police warning spectators of arrest.

Nora Cusack, a self-described observer, said she was one of those who police approached earlier this week. "I've been observing since the police started arresting people," said Cusack. "I have not participated, I have not sung, I have not clapped. I've been standing here observing only and Tuesday I was threatened with arrest."

The Department of Administration has said spectators are not subject to arrest and today issued this statement: "Only those who actively participate will be cited for not complying with the law and court order that requires them to get a permit."

When we spoke with Cusack, she said she hadn't been approached by police today and felt the DOA's statement supported her actions. "The DOA made this statement that observers like me will not be arrested," she said. "So I feel I can come back and do what I was doing before, which is simply watching without threat of arrest."

We even found one former sing-a-long participant who hoped to avoid arrest by spectating instead. "Since there was an announcement last night from the DOA that they wouldn't arrest observers, I decided to observe instead," said Victoria LaChapelle. "But clearly mark myself because I feel like I might be a target again."

We didn't see police approach spectators today, though they were still active on the ground floor where the singers gather.

The Department of Administration said 18 citations were issued today.
-------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATED Thursday, August 8, 2013 --- 4:40 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have arrested more protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol.

Protesters have been singing songs against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the Capitol rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years. Police began a crackdown on them on July 24 for lacking a permit.

The protesters maintain they don't need a permit because they're exercising their free speech rights. They also say the permit requires applicants to assume responsibility for any damage to the building but since they're not an organized group no one can officially assume liability.

Officers have issued more than 175 tickets over the last two weeks. On Thursday they arrested another 15 or so protesters. Messages left at the state Department of Administration seeking official citation totals for the day weren't immediately returned.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

___________________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, August 8, 2013 --- 1:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have arrested more protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda.

Protesters have been singing songs against Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP policies in the rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years. Police began a crackdown on them on July 24 for lacking a permit.

The protesters refuse to apply for a permit, though. They maintain they don't need one because they're exercising their free speech rights. They also say the permit requires applicants to assume responsibility for any damage to the building but since they're not an organized group no one can assume liability to satisfy that condition.

Officers have issued more than 175 tickets over the last two weeks. On Thursday they arrested another 15 or so protesters.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

______________________________________________

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 --- 8:27pm

For the past two weeks many who've come to the Wisconsin Capitol, to sing without a permit, have been been given citations, even arrested. Now, Capitol Police tell observers they could be next.

Lawmakers and observers were warned on Wednesday they may be arrested just for watching these daily protests.

In a video shot on Wednesday by Bruce Fealk, a Capitol Police officer is seen and heard telling observers that “anyone that's seen spectating or not participating as far as singing, if you are spectating, you could be subject to arrest.”

This video has some questioning police tactics. State Senator Jon Erpenbach calls it "ridiculous" and "over the top" that Capitol Police are now warning observers they could be arrested.

But, a spokeswoman for the Department of Administration contradicts the video. In a statement on Wednesday, she tells NBC 15 that police will not issue tickets to people observing protests in the Capitol, even though they have been warned they're subject to arrest.

"They've basically turned what was typically people walking through what is a public building and now they're claiming that observation is participation solely because they've legally declared an unlawful assembly” says Ryan Wherley, who's taken part in the noontime solidarity sing along a few times. He calls the warning to observers "outrageous."

“People have the right to come to this building and express their views regardless of what their views are, and people definitely have the right to come to the building and observe other people and just come to the building and stand here and watch what's going on” Wherley says.

The Capitol Police have stated they would approve a permit for the noontime singers if they apply.

Overall, there have been 160 citations given out to protesters without a permit at the Capitol, over the past 2 weeks.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UPDATED Wednesday, August 7, 2013 --- 4:41 p.m.


Youtube video credit Bruce Fealk

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker's administration says police will not issue tickets to people observing protests in the state Capitol, even though they have been warned they are subject to arrest.

Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said in an email Wednesday that, "Observers will not receive citations."

She does not explain why police this week, including Wednesday, have been warning observers that they are subject to arrest.

Walker's administration wants protesters to get a permit for the daily sing along, but participants say they don't need one to exercise their free speech rights.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, August 7, 2013 --- 1:33 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democratic lawmakers and observers who are being warned they may be arrested just for watching daily protests inside Wisconsin's Capitol are questioning police tactics.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach said during Wednesday's daily protest that it's "ridiculous" and "over the top" that Capitol Police are now warning observers they could be arrested. Even as he spoke, police circled the railing a floor above the singing to warn observers.

One of those warned was Mike Anstett, a retired teacher from Spring Green who was in Madison for the day. Anstett says he can't believe he was threatened with arrest just for watching.

Police have issued more than 160 tickets to protesters for gathering without a permit.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker's administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

________________________________________________

UPDATED Tuesday, August 6, 2013 --- 3:51 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have cited another 22 protesters as their crackdown on anti-Republican sing-alongs in the Wisconsin Capitol goes on.

Protesters have been singing songs against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years. Police began citing them on July 24 for lacking a permit, handcuffing them and leading them away to their basement headquarters.

They've issued more than 160 citations. On Tuesday they cited another 22 protesters for not having a permit. They also cited one of the 22 for disorderly conduct.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, a Middleton Democrat, sent a letter to Capitol Police Chief David Erwin asking why officers handcuff and detain protesters for a municipal violation. A state Department of Administration spokeswoman says Capitol Police are following standard police protocol.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, August 5, 2013 --- 5:16 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have cited more protesters as their crackdown on almost-daily sing-alongs in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda continues.

Protesters have been singing songs complaining about Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP policies in the rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years. Police launched a crackdown on them on July 24 for lacking a permit. They've issued more than 140 citations.

Walker said Monday he thinks attention to the protests is "overblown" and all the singers have to do is get a permit and they won't be interfered with.

The singers contend they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. A federal judge has ruled the state can require permits for large groups.

A state Department of Administration spokeswoman says officers cited 20 singers on Monday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

____________________________________

UPDATED Monday, August 5, 2013 --- 3:26 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have handcuffed more protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda as their crackdown on almost-daily sing-alongs continues.

A group of protesters have been singing songs complaining about Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP policies in the rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years. Police launched a crackdown on them on July 24 for lacking a permit. They've issued more than 140 citations.

Walker said Monday he thinks attention to the protests is "overblown" and all the singers have to do is get a permit and they won't be interfered with.

The singers contend they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. A federal judge has ruled the state can require permits for large groups.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, August 5, 2013 --- 1:20 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have handcuffed more protesters in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda as their crackdown on almost-daily sing-alongs continues.

A group of protesters have been singing songs complaining about Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP policies in the rotunda almost every noon hour for more than two years. Police launched a crackdown on them on July 24 for lacking a permit. They've issued more than 140 citations.

The singers contend they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. A federal judge has ruled the state can require permits for large groups.

Capitol Police handcuffed about 20 singers on Monday and led them away to their basement headquarters. The rest of the group sang on, ending the noon hour by chanting "we're not going away."

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

________________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, August 1, 2013 --- 4:53 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The police crackdown on singers who gather nearly every work day in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda is now in its second week.

Police on Thursday issued 23 citations to protesters for singing in the Capitol without a permit. Two people were cited twice. One ticket was issued for obstructing justice.

The protesters have been singing anti-Gov. Scott Walker songs for more than two years in the Capitol. The latest crackdown began July 24 and since then more than 140 tickets for gathering without a permit have been issued by police under the control of Walker's administration.

The singers argue they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. But a federal judge said last month the state can require permits for groups larger than 20.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

___________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, August 1, 2013 --- 12:58 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The police crackdown on singers who gather nearly every work day in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda is now in its second week.

Police on Thursday were arresting the protesters who have been singing anti-Gov. Scott Walker songs for more than two years in the Capitol. The latest crackdown on the singers began July 24 and since then more than 120 tickets for gathering without a permit have been issued by police under the control of Walker's administration.

The singers argue they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. But a federal judge said last month the state can require permits for groups larger than 20.

About 50 singers gathered in the rotunda Thursday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, July 31, 2013 --- 3:35 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- There have been no arrests during the daily sing along inside the Wisconsin Capitol because a Madison television station got a permit for a similar event.

Russell Bruhn, news director of WMTV, says the NBC station got the permit for Wednesday to see how the process worked. He says the station got the permit for its own usage and not anyone else's.

Capitol Police watched but did not arrest any of the 50 or more singers inside the rotunda.

A federal judge has said the state can require permits for groups of more than 20, and since last week police have issued more than 120 tickets.

The singers argue they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_________________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, July 31, 2013 --- 1:36 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- There have been no apparent arrests during the daily sing along inside the Wisconsin Capitol, even though protesters gathered yet again without the required permit.

Capitol Police watched but did not appear to engage with any of the 50 or more protesters Wednesday inside the rotunda. In the past week, police have issued more than 120 tickets, mostly for gathering without a permit.

Protesters say they have a free speech right to gather without a permit, even though a federal judge said the state can require it for groups larger than 20.

Police last week were videotaping protesters so they could issue tickets later in the mail.

Note: A spokesperson with the DOA did call NBC15 to confirm there were no arrests.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATED Tuesday, July 30, 2013 --- 4:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have arrested 30 people for singing without a permit inside the Wisconsin Capitol.

Tuesday marks the fourth week day out of the past five that people have been ticketed for gathering without the required permit in the Capitol.

There were no arrests Monday, as the usual people who sing songs lambasting Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker performed outside. Another group of conservatives obtained a permit to sing in the rotunda.

About 100 anti-Walker singers returned Tuesday and about 50 others observed.

Police have issued more than 120 tickets since last week to the singers, mostly for not having a permit.

The singers argue they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. But a federal judge says a permit can be required for groups larger than 20.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

UPDATED Tuesday, July 30, 2013 --- 1:07 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police are arresting singers gathered inside the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda without the required permit for the fourth week day out of the past five.

Capitol Police began leading people away in hand cuffs shortly after the singing lambasting Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker began at noon on Tuesday. There were no arrests on Monday, as the usual singers performed outside. Another group of conservatives obtained a permit to sing in the rotunda.

Police issued more than 80 tickets over three days last week to the singers, mostly for not having a permit.

The singers argue they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. But Walker's administration says the permit requirement is constitutional and a permit would be granted if the singers asked for one.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

________________________________________________

UPDATED Monday, July 29, 2013 --- 2:20 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Singers are holding dueling protests at the Wisconsin Capitol.

A loosely organized group of protesters known as the Solidarity Singers sang outside Monday after members were arrested three days in a row last week for failing to get a permit to be inside the building. The group has been holding noon sing-alongs at the Capitol nearly every day for two years.

The rotunda was occupied by a largely Republican group that supports the Gov. Scott Walker. Conservative blogger David Blaska says he organized that sing-along to show just how easy it is to get a free permit.

Capitol police began their crackdown on protesters without permits after a federal judge ruled earlier this month that large groups must have a permit to gather in the building.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, July 26, 2013 --- 4:44 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Seventeen protesters have been arrested on the third day of a crackdown for gathering in the Wisconsin state Capitol without a permit.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration said Friday that 17 citations were issued during the event and 14 more will be sent to people for participating based on video evidence.

Since Wednesday, 79 citations have been issued to people for gathering in the Capitol without a permit.

The noontime singers say they have a constitutional right to be there without a permit. Walker's administration says the gathering is illegal without a permit, but will issue one to the singers if they would apply.

The singers have been coming to the Capitol ever weekday since March 2011.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, July 26, 2013 --- 1:55 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- More than a dozen protesters singing inside the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda have been arrested by police, the third straight day of a crackdown against opponents of Gov. Scott Walker's administration.

They are being arrested for not having a permit to gather in the Capitol, something they have been doing every week day since March 2011.

Participants in the noontime sing along say they are exercising their free speech rights and don't need a permit to gather in the Capitol.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month that the state can require groups larger than 20 to obtain a permit. That led to the new round of arrests this week that began on Wednesday.

Walker administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says they would be given a permit if they applied.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

__________________________________________

UPDATED Friday, July 26, 2013 --- 10:35 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Protesters are planning on meeting again Friday at the Wisconsin state Capitol despite two days of arrests for them gathering without a permit.

The only question was whether they would meet outside as they typically do on Fridays or come inside, where Capitol Police arrested 48 people on Wednesday and Thursday for gathering without a permit.

Opinions are mixed on the group's Facebook page.

Supporters and participants in the noontime sing along, which has been going on daily since March 2011, say they are exercising their free speech rights and don't need a permit to gather in the Capitol.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month that the state can require groups larger than 20 to obtain a permit. That led to the new round of arrests this week.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, July 25, 2013--6:30p.m.
MADISON--The volume was amped up as folks flocked to the Capitol today to participate in the noontime sing-a-long, after citations were given to the group on Wednesday for not having a permit.

Capitol police warned of similar scenes today, with a sign calling the event unlawful and threatening participants with arrest.

"I told my mother I wouldn't be arrested today," said Singer Michael Dickman. "But when they came to me first and said 'if you don't leave' I said 'well, I'm sorry I cant do that'. "

Several times over the course of an hour today, Capitol Police filed in, handcuffed singers and escorted them out. "I was zip-tied and taken to the basement for standing in the rotunda," said Miles Kristan, another singer. "I wasn't even singing at the time, they just took me to the basement of the Capitol for standing here, they told me I was identified as a protestor and they took me away."

Kristan was given a $200 citation, before returning to the rotunda. "They said I could get another one of these if I came back up here," he said, talking about the citation. "But this is a joke...There's nothing lawful about this ticket." But minutes after speaking with us, Kristan was again escorted out.

The singers we spoke with say they showed-up to stand-up for their rights--and vow to return in the future.

That begs the question: How long will these scenes continue?

"I think the escalation is entirely up to the police force and Department of Administration and Gov. Walker," said State Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville. "Gov. Walker is in charge of this thing and if they want to keep escalating the arrests and the police presence crowds will grow. If they'll just let it...let people sing and be happy the crowds will diminish."

The Wisconsin Department of Administration issued this response: “The Capitol Police are sworn officers who will continue to uphold the law, which has also been upheld by a federal judge. If the noontime singers would get a permit, then they could continue their activities without any arrests or citations. They are the only group being cited as they are the only group who has not applied for a permit for their regularly scheduled events at the Capitol rotunda. The question to ask is why they refuse to apply for a permit.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATED Thursday, July 25, 2013 --- 2:40 p.m.

The DOA reports that the follow citations were issued today:

Citations Issued
26 citations for no permit

3 state charges
-1 disorderly conduct
-1 disorderly conduct / resisting arrest
-1 resisting arrest

_____________________________________________

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Scores of protesters have returned to the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda a day after police launched another crackdown on them.

Protesters have been meeting in the rotunda during the noon hour nearly every day for the last two years to sing anti-Republican songs. On Wednesday police launched a crackdown on them, arresting nearly two dozen of them for not having a permit to gather in the building.

The move enraged the group, who feel they're exercising their free speech rights. On Thursday dozens more protesters showed up in the rotunda than Wednesday, many carrying cameras.

Police issued 26 citations for not having a permit, one citation for disorderly conduct, one citation for disorderly conduct/resisting arrest and one for resisting arrest.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

___________________________________

UPDATED Thursday, July 25, 2013 --- 12:30 p.m.

Singers at the Wisconsin Capitol are once again receiving citations.

NBC15's Rachelle Baillon is at the Capitol. She says some singers are being taken away in handcuffs, while those remaining continue to sing and chant.

Here's today's statement from the DOA:

“The Capitol Police are sworn officers who will continue to uphold the law, which has also been upheld by a federal judge. If the noontime singers would get a permit, then they could continue their activities without any arrests or citations. They are the only group being cited as they are the only group who has not applied for a permit for their regularly scheduled events at the Capitol rotunda. The question to ask is why they refuse to apply for a permit.”
Stephanie Marquis, Spokesperson
Wisconsin Department of Administration

____________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, July 24, 2013 --- 3:11 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Gov. Scott Walker's administration says Capitol Police cited nearly two dozen people who gathered in the building's rotunda to sing.

Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis says 22 people received citations for not having a permit. Three of the 22 received two citations.

One person was also cited for disorderly conduct for allegedly spitting on a singer.

Capitol Police launched a crackdown on the so-called Solidarity Singers on Wednesday, two week after a federal judge ruled large groups need permits to gather in the Capitol.

The singers have been meeting in the rotunda almost daily for two years to protest Republican policies.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATED Wednesday, July 24, 2013 --- 2:42 p.m.

The Department of Administration released the following statement today regarding the citations at the Capitol:

A total of 25 no permit citations were issued today to 22 people (3 individuals received two citations). The fine amount for a no permit citation is $200.50. In addition, one individual received a disorderly conduct citation for spitting on a singer/protester, for a total of 26 citations in all.

______________________________________________

UPDATED Wednesday, July 24, 2013 --- 1:28 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Police have arrested about 20 people in the state Capitol in their first crackdown on daily protesters since a federal judge ruled large groups need a permit to gather in the building.

A group of hard-core protesters has been gathering in the Capitol rotunda almost daily for more than two years to sing songs bashing Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The governor's administration adopted an access policy that required permits for any organized activity in the building. U.S. District Judge William Conley earlier this month issued an injunction stating no group of less than 20 needs a permit.

The singers gathered as usual on Wednesday. Capitol Police and state troopers appeared and warned the group the gathering was unlawful. They then began handcuffing people and leading them away.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

_____________________________________________

Posted Wednesday, July 24, 2013 --- 1:15 p.m.

Solidarity singers are getting ticketed at the Wisconsin state capitol.

The tickets (pictured above in the slide show) say “no permit” under the violation section.

Our crew at the scene says some demonstrators have been asked to leave or have been escorted from the Capitol.

Here is a statement from the Department of Administration:

“Judge Conley ruled several weeks ago that the State’s permit process is constitutional. The Capitol Police are upholding the law to ensure the building can be shared by all citizens who come to the Capitol.”


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
NBC15 615 Forward Drive Madison, Wisconsin 53711 Business: 608-274-1515 Newsroom: 608-274-1500
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 216789461 - nbc15.com/a?a=216789461