MADISON (WSAU) The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Walker administration yesterday. The group wants the state to stop requiring permits to demonstrate at the Capitol – and to stop arresting protestors who don’t have those permits.
Walker officials responded to the massive pro-union protests at the Capitol in 2011 by requiring permits for all Capitol citizen activities with four-or-more people, 72 hours in advance. The A-C-L-U’s lawsuit mentions U-W medical physics professor Michael Kissick, who said he stopped demonstrating in September for fear of arrest. In a statement, Kissick resented being quote, “treated as a criminal for speaking freely in a public forum.”
But state officials say the protestors have harassed their political opponents. Stephanie Marquis of the Administration Department says Wisconsin’s policy is in line with those at other statehouses – and both state-and-federal courts have found those to be constitutional. She said Capitol Police have issued hundreds of activity permits each year regardless of the political leanings. The Solidarity Singers, which continue to protest Walker and his fellow Republicans in daily noon-time sing-alongs, refuse to obtain the permits. Some of their participants have been arrested. But a Dane County judge dropped a number of cases, saying the policy applies to organizers and not those who merely participate.