1) I’m In
I stand by the Solidarity Sing Along (SSA). I do not think the Solidarity Sing Along is detrimental to “our movement”. It is in fact the movement’s most persistent element – the pilot light that you should keep afire. It began on March 11, 2011 as an extension of the occupation and has persisted through the courage of individual Wisconsinites who had to figure everything out on their own and under pressure. It lives in defiance of an autocratic administration that tries to eradicate it. Nobody has allowed it to die out of neglect, “civility”, infighting, or excuse-making. It is free and yet held tightly in common. It is amazing.
2) What’s In New Rules
New Capitol building “emergency” rules amend Chapter 2 of the Administrative Code and went into effect as of Tuesday 4/16/13. According to Jim Murray, an attorney who has been reviewing the old and new rules, the differences aren’t significant between now and the previous Capitol rule revamp of June 2012:
“The more I re-read both the new and old versions of the policy and the rules the more I believe that (almost) nothing has changed”.
But Ryan Wherley noted a new development that could be significant to passers-by if enforced: the rules say “spectators” can be given a citation for simply being present at an unpermitted event.
One obvious departure from the previous rules involves sign size.
A handheld sign wider or longer than 28″ is defined as an “exhibit” and it needs a permit to be on the lawn of the Capitol square or in the building proper. But signs smaller than 28″ would need no permit.
3) The Federal Free Speech Lawsuit
A hearing for an injunction against enforcement of Wisconsin DOA’s rules is in federal court 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, April 17 and through the day in the Western District of Wisconsin Court (120 N Henry Street, 2nd floor, Madison). Plaintiff Michael Kissick is expected to go first. for an injunction against the DoA’s “enforcement” of the rules I’ve been informed that photography, videotaping, and cell phone recording is typically verboten in chambers.
This is for the federal lawsuit the ACLU filed [Kissick v. Huebsch & Erwin] which charges that the rules have a chilling effect on Michael Kissick’s speech, and thus are in violation of his first amendment rights:
“DOA adopted the permit scheme in November 2011, following widespread demonstrations in and around the Capitol earlier that year. Under the new plan, groups as small as four must obtain prior permission from the government before they engage in expression “for the purpose of actively promoting any cause.”
ACLU just came out with a very nice piece on this: The Capitol free speech case: Q&A with Professor Michael Kissick
4) Emergency Rules Equal Broken Government (And They’re Not New)
Changing rules using an “emergency rule” procedure in Wisconsin sounds alarming. In truth it is a commonly used, albeit undemocratic, way to fast-track changes to a rule without public input. In truth, (hopefully to the embarrassment of many) emergency rule-making was also carried out under Democratic Party Governor Doyle.
On 5/22/12 Richard Moore of Lakeland Times wrote, “…during the last three years of Gov. Jim Doyle’s term, the administration promulgated 133 rules, or 44.3 a year. In other words, the number of emergency rules being enacted annually has dropped by 57.5 percent since Doyle left office.”
5) SSA is Outside This Week
The Sing Along occurred outside today and will stay outside through Friday 04/19/13. This is due to a long-standing tradition of the SSA occurring outside if other previously scheduled events are slated to occur in the rotunda of the Capitol (though individual protesters frequently hold signs in the Capitol while permitted events are going on). It seems unlikely they will suffer enforcement of the DOA’s rules outside unless they exceed 100 participants. Stay tuned.
6) Citations Have Been A Given
It’s anybody’s guess whether the Capitol police will step up enforcement of their rules inside and to what degree. The DOA could order increased arrests come Monday April 22nd or else Tuesday April 23rd when singing is inside the building.
In any case, Capitol police have already been handing out citations like candy: 146 citations have been given for a variety of actions to include singing, being present, holding signs, holding banners, “conducting”, walking in a circle, and chalking on the public sidewalk outside. Of the ever-increasing number of citations, 70 have been dismissed and none have been successfully prosecuted.
Wisco Wherls has a wonderful and uplifting post for you, in case you have not seen it yet: One Day Longer, 25 Months Stronger: the Solidarity Sing Along Draws Hope From the Next Generation.
8) Give to ACLU
ACLU has been essential. If you’ve got the means, please consider giving a donation to ACLU Wisconsin for their work to protect our freedoms.
9) How to stay connected with Solidarity Sing Along
Try this facebook page.
Footnote: I stayed away from the Capitol due to recurring bad dreams about the building. That was linked with being close to the arrest of a Red Cliff drummer in the rotunda last year. Bad dreams are gone now. I’m back to the Capitol. I like singing.