Target: Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Michael Huebsch
Goal: Stop arresting peaceful protestors for singing in Wisconsin capitol
Since demonstrations first began in 2011, protestors at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison have continued an hour-long protest every day since. Demonstrators gather for a peaceful sing-a-long to protest the regressive policies of Gov. Scott Walker. Beginning in July, police began cracking down again on protestors without permit. Over 300 people have been arrested since. Urge the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Madison Police force to stop arresting individuals engaged in peaceful demonstration.
According to the Walker Administration, groups larger than 20 people are restricted from gathering unless they hold a permit. Madison Police, headed by Chief David Erwin, have arrested indiscriminately– from a 14 year-old-girl to an 80-year-old women, as well as magazine editors. The Wisconsin government’s rampant arrests have sparked ire from its own public servants, prompting a number of Madison firefighters to join the movement, one of who has since been arrested. Courts have yet to rule on the constitutionality of the policy, so all arrests made so far back legal jurisdiction.
Some suspect the recent actions against demonstrators signal Gov. Walker’s desire to shut down the Madison Capitol protests for good, removing an obstacle that might hinder him from announcing his candidacy for president in 2016. However, the policing of dissenters is generating quite the opposite effect, inspiring many more to join the movement. Most protestors cited for arrest have carried their case to court, where nearly 90 percent of arrests were dropped. Indicting such cases under a trial by jury is likely to cost the state government hundreds of thousands of dollars– money going to waste. Since protests center mainly on the subject of the state’s failure to generate new jobs, this is an unwise move for Gov. Walker and the Department of Administration.
Both the U.S. and Wisconsin State constitution protect citizens’ right to assembly. These recent arrests impinge on basic liberties. Moreover, they are both silly and pointless. Urge the Wisconsin Department of Administration to stop arresting citizens for singing in protest.
Dear Secretary Michael Huebsch,
I am baffled by the Department of Administration’s recent policy of arresting peaceful demonstrators. What goals do you hope to achieve prosecuting individuals for gathering to sing? Your administration and the Madison Police force are wasting money and resources trying to repress basic liberties. The courts are dismissing nearly all citations of arrest and negative publicity is sparking others to join the protest movement. Clearly your policy is producing the opposite effect from which you intended.
Arresting old women and teenagers is harsh and unjustified. Arresting civil servants and firefighters sends a message of antagonism toward the Wisconsin people who work to make your community a better place. If you continue on with such abuses you risk alienating a group of concerned citizens and inspiring anger not just from around the state but from across the country.
I call for you to end the arrest of peaceful singers. Please stop abusing basic civil liberties.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Joe Rowley via Wikimedia Commons