Citizens Arrested for Singing at Capitol

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 |

Earlier today, Wisconsin State Capitol Police arrested people associated with the Solidarity Sing Along, a loose-knit group of Wisconsinites who gather to sing protest songs in the Capitol rotunda each day at noon.

Singers were put in handcuffs, taken to the Capitol Police office in the basement, and cited with a violation of Administrative Code, a ticket that comes with a $200.50 fine. The code is the one at the center of a recent lawsuit by the ACLU, which argued that the rule violates all citizens’ Constitutionally-protected right to freedom of assembly.

It reads:

2.14 (2)
Pursuant to s. 16.846, Stats., whoever does any of the following shall be subject to a forfeiture of not more than $500:

(v) Without approval of the department, conducts a picket, rally, parade or demonstration in those buildings and facilities managed or leased by the department or on properties surrounding those buildings.

Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis was in a meeting this afternoon and unable to confirm the exact number of people who were cited today. The ACLU of Wisconsin puts the number at two dozen, while State Representative Chris Taylor’s office puts that figure at approximately 40.

This comes two and half weeks after a federal judge issued a temporary injunction, striking down the previous rule barring more than 4 people from gathering at the Capitol without a permit. That case is still pending, with a trial scheduled for January 2014.

WORT reporter Patrick Waring sat down with two of the arrested singers, Joan and Tom Kemble of Madison, to hear their story.

Photo Credits: Leslie Amsterdam, Patrick Waring

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