Police in Madison, Wisconsin continued their crackdown on protesters in the capitol building on Monday, arresting 20 people taking part in the near-daily Solidarity Sing Along actions that protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker's agenda.
The Solidarity Sing Along has been a noon-hour fixture in the capitol rotunda since it first began in March of 2011.
The crackdown on the singers, however, began two weeks ago when Gov. Scott Walker announced that protesters need a permit for their actions in the capitol. Wednesday's arrests bring the number of citations to over 140.
The protesters say they do have their permit—it's the Constitution, and say it's time for people across the country to take back their capitols.
"This is the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year struggle for free speech. We’ve been in a struggle with the Walker administration that’s attempted to put a Capitol access policy in place that restricts people’s use of the people’s house as a forum for free speech," said protester Steve Burns.
"And so this latest escalation includes arresting people and then citing us for a violation of the permit policy of the Walker administration. We see sing-alongs popping up in other places. We’ve heard there’s a Michigan sing-along; there’s a Texas sing-along. People need to reclaim their state capitols. There are states that have even more restrictive laws than we have, and it’s time that the people take back their capitols as the people’s house," continued Burns.
The arrests seem to be no deterrent to the singing protesters, who, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, generally cooperate with the arresting officers, only to emerge minutes after receiving their $200.50 citation and rejoin the protest in the rotunda. As they ended their action on Monday, the tenacious group declared, "We're still here."
Rebecca Kemble writes at The Progressive that
The Walker Administration’s heavy-handed tactics for silencing political dissent seem to be backfiring. Not only have the arrests garnered negative national media attention, it appears as though the officers on the front lines are unable to handle the job given to them.
Local news NBC15 has video:
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Flickr user Jenna Pope has more photos from the July 31 Solidarity Sing Along: