Wisconsin lawmaker threatened with arrest for observing progressive protest


By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Officer confonts woman in the Wisconsin Capitol (Screenshot)

A Wisconsin lawmaker and a state official were both threatened with arrest on Tuesday for observing a progressive “Solidarity Sing Along” protest at the state Capitol.

State Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Middleton) and executive secretary Tia Nelson of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands told Isthmus they were threatened with arrest by a Capitol Police officer. The officer told the two women that anyone who stood to watch the protest rather than moving along was subject to arrest.

“As a legislator I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I think what [the police] are doing is unconstitutional. How can you arrest me for observing?” told Isthmus.

A video uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday showed another woman being warned by a police officer.

“He told me that it has been declared an unlawful event because there are more than 20 people here. I told him that I was not with that group, that I was watching, and that even though I was just watching, just videoing, I had to leave or I would be subject to arrest,” the woman said.

The almost-daily “Solidarity Sing Along” began during the 2011 budget protests, when Republicans launched an assault on public employee unions. In July, a judge ruled that groups of more than 20 people could not gather in the Wisconsin Capitol without a permit. Police have issued more than 100 citations to protesters so far.

A police spokeswoman told the Associated Press only participants, and not observers, would be ticketed.

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