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04 December 2011

FollowUp 2: Wisconsin Republican Dirty Tricks

Wikipedia has good information on the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
The right to peaceably assemble is under fire by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on 1 December that expensive permits are now to be required for groups of four or more to assemble at the State Capitol.
Gov. Scott Walker's administration could hold demonstrators at the Capitol liable for the cost of extra police or cleanup and repairs after protests, under a new policy unveiled Thursday.
The rules, which several legal experts said raised serious free speech concerns, seemed likely to add to the controversy that has simmered all year over demonstrations in the state's seat of government.
The policy, which also requires permits for events at the statehouse and other state buildings, took effect Thursday and will be phased in by Dec. 16. Walker administration officials contend the policy simply clarifies existing rules.
I've written a number of posts in the short time that this blog has existed on how Mr. Walker is harming education in Wisconsin, public employee unions in Wisconsin, voters in Wisconsin, women in Wisconsin, and now limiting the right to peaceably assemble.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gives some details of this new policy.
The policy says:
Groups of four or more people must obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings and apply for those permits at least 72 hours in advance. The policy requires permits for 100 or more people outside the Capitol. The policy does provide some leeway for spontaneous gatherings triggered by unforeseen events.
Groups holding demonstrations could be charged for the costs of having extra police on hand for the event. Costs associated with a counterprotest could be charged to that second group. The costs would be $50 per hour per Capitol Police officer - costs for police officers from outside agencies would depend on the costs billed to the state. The police could require an advance payment as a requirement for getting a permit and also could require liability insurance or a bond.
Demonstrators may not tape or stick signs to Capitol walls not intended for signs. During the protests hundreds of signs were posted at the Capitol.
Any damage or cleanup after a demonstration could be charged to organizers. During the court fight earlier this year over access to the Capitol, Walker's administration said the demonstrators had done $7.5 million in damage to the building with the signs and other wear and tear. But almost immediately the administration sharply backpedaled from that claim, conceding the damage was significantly less.
Given the Walker administrations exaggeration of costs early this year, one has to be concerned about this narrowing of the First Amendment.  Not all groups of four or more persons are going along.  Channel 3000 reported on a group of protest singers who plan to continue their songs without applying for permits.
The group of singing protesters known as the Solidarity Singers gathers nearly every day at around the noon hour to host sing-alongs in the building. On Friday, the sing-along was outside, which is what is typically done on Fridays.
DOA officials said that groups as small as four people holding demonstrations in state buildings, including the Capitol, must give notice 72 hours before the event. As part of the rules, officials could even charge groups for costs of cleanup or security.
But despite the announcement of the rules on Thursday, Chris Reeder, one of the organizers of the Solidarity Singers, said that he believes the rule violates their free speech rights.
"We won't be applying for a permit. We feel very strongly about that. That's one of the central tenets. We do not believe that free speech requires a permit," he said.
He said that he feels the policy, which DOA officials have described as a clarification, thwarts their efforts."It does definitely seem like they are trying to crack down on protests and crack down on dissent at the Capitol. We feel pretty strongly we need to make our voices heard at the Capitol," Reeder said.
According to WTMJ, the Wisconsin ACLU is considering a lawsuit to protect the Freedom of Assembly in Wisconsin.

16 November 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
30 November 2011, FollowUp 1.

11 December 2011, FollowUp 3.
14 December 2011, FollowUp 4.
15 December 2011, FollowUp 5.
30 December 2011, FollowUp 6.
13 January 2012, FollowUp 7.
17 January 2012, FollowUp 8.
25 January 2012, FollowUp 9.
2 February 2012, FollowUp 10.
9 February 2012, FollowUp 11.
12 February 2012, FollowUp 12.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 13.
22 February 2012, FollowUp 14.
6 March 2012, FollowUp 15.
12 March 2012, FollowUp 16.
16 March 2012, FollowUp 17.
30 March 2012, FollowUp 18.
31 March 2012, FollowUp 19.
3 April 2012, FollowUp 20.
4 April 2012, FollowUp 21.
11 April 2012, FollowUp 22.
14 April 2012, FollowUp 23.
17 April 2012, FollowUp 24.
21 April 2012, FollowUp 25.
29 April 2012, FollowUp 26.
2 May 2012, FollowUp 27.
6 May 2012, FollowUp 28.
10 May 2012, FollowUp 29.
13 May 2012, FollowUp 30.
23 May 2012, FollowUp 31.
24 May 2012, FollowUp 32.
30 May 2012, FollowUp 33.
2 June 2012, FollowUp 34.
4 June 2012, FollowUp 35.
5 June 2012, FollowUp 36.

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