Eight Arrested at Capitol for Unlawful Display of Signs

[EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is another open-source correction/continuation of one of Clay Barbour’s articles.  We hope he appreciates our help and are very happy that he correctly stated the number of arrests, even if he didn’t know why they were arrested.]

Eight arrested at Capitol for protest without permit  unlawful display of signs

Photo credit: Lisa Wells

Capitol police arrested eight people in the rotunda today for holding a protest without a permit unlawful display of signs, one of the first arrests since the new chief vowed last month to begin strictly enforcing the statehouse’s rules.  The confiscated signs included:  a blank sheet of foam core; two Muslims for Life  t-shirts supporting the Red Cross; “Donors thank you for the gift of life;” We ❤ Blood Donors;” three copies of Article 1, Section 4 of the Wisconsin Constitution;” “It’s about freedom;” and two signs quoting Mahatma Gandhi “An unjust law is itself a species of violence.  Arrest for its breach is more so.”  Additionally, more than 10 signs were taken from a citizen’s handbag preemptively. 

About 14 protesters citizens were holding or hanging up  signs and  t-shirts on the first floor of the rotunda, where a Red Cross blood drive was taking place. The Red Cross had a permit, police said. Four of those cited participated in the  blood drive and donated enough blood to potentially save 18 lives.  Officers originally asked the protesters citizens to remove their signs and told them they could continue their protest outside leave the building. Eight protesters citizens were arrested and given civil citations.  Others were given a verbal warning.

One of the protesters, While Jason Huberty was waiting in the Red Cross privacy area to give blood, his friends were displaying his Gandhi quote and it was seized by the police.  Mr. Huberty made another quote and displayed it himself, for which he was ticketed.  said he was The police told Mr. Huberty, if he ever returned and protested held a sign without a permit, he would be charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.  Christine Taylor, who was cited for holding a Muslims for Life t-shirt asked the police if “ever returned” meant infinity.  The police agreed, it meant infinity.  He said he planned Mr. Huberty plans to return and protest again exercise his rights. 

New Capitol Police Chief David Erwin said last month that he planned to begin strictly enforcing the Capitol’s rules in an effort to restore normalcy and safety to a building that has become home to regular demonstrations.  Citizens can rest assured that they will no longer be visually assaulted by handmade signs promoting the Red Cross.  Chief Erwin apparently thinks we will all sleep better at night when we don’t have the words of Mahatma Gandhi forced upon us as well.  

Photo credit: Lisa Wells

The Capitol has required some form of permitting since 1979. Police said it helps them determine how many people are in the building at any given time. Many other states require a permit to hold events in their Capitol buildings, including Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho and California.  However, Wisconsin has always been a progressive state, and our Capitol building is like no other.  Since the Wisconsin State Capitol is on the Historic Register, the function of the rotunda is clearly defined. Page 11, paragraph 1 of the Registry form states:

“More than any other space in the building, the Rotunda expresses the intended symbolism of the structure. With the Rotunda’s verticality culminating at the Edwin Blashfield painting, “The Resources of Wisconsin,” the space was intended to be morally uplifting and inspirational in a manner that references the dome’s ecclesiastical origins. Traditionally a symbol of religious expression, late nineteenth century American architects transformed the dome and its interior into one of civic celebration. The soaring rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol is designed to induce its citizenry to be, as individuals, among the “resources of Wisconsin.” Whereas some statehouses are maintained apart from the urban fabric, the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda functions, both literally and symbolically, as a city center and is fully utilized as a public space to which all have claim.”

All who have a permit, that is.  Under Chief Erwin’s watch, you may come to the Capitol to donate a pint of blood but, if you dare to hold a sign, you may leave owing a pound of flesh.  Or at least $200.50.

Photo credit: Leslie Amsterdam

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2 Comments on “Eight Arrested at Capitol for Unlawful Display of Signs”

  1. Jim Murray September 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Dear WCMC,

    My entire family loves your open-source correction/continuation features. Please keep
    them coming. Can’t wait for the next one.

    Jim M.

    Madison, WI

  2. Patricia K Hammel September 6, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    I don’t want to live in Nebraska. The first eighteen years was enough.

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