New Capitol Police Tactic: Home Delivery of Citations

By Rebecca Kemble, Edward Kuharski, Arthur Kohl-Riggs and Nicole Schulte

At 4:20pm this afternoon, Jason Huberty answered a knock on his door.  It was two Capitol Police officers calling to deliver citations to him and his partner, Lisa Wells. They were each cited for two violations of Wisconsin Administrative Code: 2.14(2)(v) “obstruct access, passage, etc. (no permit)” and 2.08(1)(b) “holding signs over railings-prohibited.” Earlier in the day, Huberty and Wells had joined dozens of other defenders of free speech and assembly at the Capitol for the Solidarity Sing Along.

Jason Huberty is asked to hold his banner with his hands. Photo by Rebecca Kemble

At 5:30 pm Brandon Barwick was walking through the Capitol building when Capitol Police officer Mitch Steingraeber called him down to the Capitol Police Station to deliver his citation for violating WI Administrative Code 2.14(2)(v) “obstruct access, passage, etc. (no permit).” Barwick is a long-time participant in the Solidarity Sing Along.

In the wake of last week’s highly publicized arrests of eleven citizens for holding signs in the Capitol rotunda, the Capitol Police have apparently changed tactics. Instead of the over-the-top displays of force used last week where eight to ten officers handcuffed and arrested alleged violators of the Department of Administration administrative code that prohibits displaying a sign without a permit, today officers videotaped the alleged offenses and hand delivered citations to people at home hours after the alleged offenses.

Sign held at today’s Solidarity Sing Along. Photo by Rebecca Kemble

Huberty, Wells and Barwick all say that they had not been warned that their behavior was in violation of the code. Officers made vague requests of Huberty and Wells to hold the banners with their hands instead of securing them with heavy objects. They complied with the requests. Barwick did not even speak with a Capitol Police officer until he was given the citation later in the afternoon.

Barwick reports that Officer Steingraeber told him police sought him out at his home before chancing upon him in the Capitol. He does not understand what rule he violated or why the police would go so far as to seek him out at home. The police had no answers for him. They told him simply that this was how they have been instructed to issue citations, and recommended that he speak with the Department of Administration public relations staff or Chief David Erwin himself.

Lisa Wells exercising her first amendment rights on the second floor. Photo by Rebecca Kemble

Erwin had left for the day and was not returning phone calls. When Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) met with Erwin and DoA spokesperson Wendy Coomer last week she asked them to specify the behaviors for which people would be cited. They did not give her an answer and instead walked out of the meeting.

Huberty, Wells and Barwick all assert that singing and holding banners in the Capitol rotunda falls under constitutional protections for free speech and freedom of assembly. When asked why he participates in the Sing Along, Barwick said, “Scott Walker’s policies are offensive to me, my family, my community and overall humanity.” He added, “I have a constitutional right to be here and have my voice heard.”

All three people cited today plan to challenge the citations in court on September 21.

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5 Comments on “New Capitol Police Tactic: Home Delivery of Citations”

  1. beverly jean skelton September 10, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    Thanks for a thorough, accurate reporting. Chief Erwin was obviously putting on the old soft shoe for the press yesterday. They were never caught unaware that a larger group was coming as he is claiming today according to other sources. The agenda is not to stop singing or signs, It appears it is to eliminate dissent with regard to the Walker administration, which he claims to be separated from. I do not believe that for a minute.

  2. beverly jean skelton September 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Correction to comment above. I meant to say “for the press last Friday” instead of “yesterday.”

  3. Karen September 11, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Scary, sad state we’re in right now. How can this be our America? It gets more incredulous day by day! The word needs to get out loud and clear that this is absolutely unconstitutional, and that our rights are being violated, ignored, taken away. Where are the tea partiers and their “Freedom Rallies”? For them, freedom exists only within their narrow parameters, and only for those who agree with them. Hypocrisy, not freedom is what they’re about, and they won’t stand up for injustice against anyone else unless is advances their own small-minded agenda. We must move to act against this machine that is destroying our country – and it will spread as surely as Kochwalker’s agenda has.

  4. Jim Kieselburg September 11, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    HEIL WALKER ! and his Gestopo Police.

  5. aaron rodgers September 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    He can’t challenge it that day — he only gets to enter a plea and will probably find it impossible to get any information about the charges that day. Good report, but have to point out the inaccuracy — it is helpful to understand the process before reporting on it because if anyone thinks they can just challenge these things, they are going to be rudely awaken.

    The process strings along and don’t expect any meaningful help from the lawyer’s guild!

    Sorry to have to post this, but people need to understand that the process is designed to make this difficult to fight, expensive, and — in the end, most citations only need to meet the low standard of “preponderance of evidence” so taking to court is a crap-shoot (and it is only a 6 person jury which only needs a majority to convict).

    There are some lawyers that hang around and grandstand instead of telling people the truth about what you are really up against when Cap Pol cites you.

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