Wisconsin Capitol illegally closed to newcomers

It's illegal to block public access to the Wisconsin State Capitol Building (See Article I, §4), but it appears that Governor Scott Walker is attempting to do that, anyway. Today, the Capitol has been closed to any protesters who didn't spend last night inside. Authorities say they won't let any new protesters in until everyone left inside leaves. When Rep. Kelda Helen Roys refused to show ID, she wasn't allowed in, either. The Governor is giving a speech tonight on his budget proposals, and I'm certain that has absolutely nothing to do with the timing of this lockdown.


  1. I can’t see how this will end well.

    But I’m blown away by the lack of mainstream media coverage.
    Did someone call a blackout and I just missed it?

    1. Its crazy here (Sweden) NOTHING about Wisconsin. Libya allot – nothing on Yemen nothing about Marocco and nothing about wisconsin

    2. “Did someone call a blackout and I just missed it?”

      Worker solidarity is communism, but collective corporate concerns, patriotic!

  2. What specifically changes when the teachers no longer have “collective bargaining rights”? Not a long-term result but what does that mean immediately?

  3. It’s also against code in most places for a building to exceed its maximum occupancy. I know it sounds crazy but maybe Gov. Walker is concerned with safety and security of the occupants of of the State Capital Building.

    1. Also, joking about taking a baseball bat to protesters makes me think he might not have their best interests in heart.

  4. There are probably some public safety and fire codes that they use to justify limiting the number of people crowding inside the capitol building but certainly, the constitutional right to free and peaceful assembly is being tested. The Governor, in his prank call, made a revealing point to wanting to use troublemakers planted in the crowds. Once the assembly stops being peaceful, any kind of property damage or assault would give the governor the opportunity to shut it down with the force of law.

    1. The state legislature voted themselves exempt from Madison fire code some years ago. They were probably just looking to avoid the expense of various retrofittings, probably never expected it to bite them in the ass like this.

  5. And this is why you bring not only a mobile phone but an appropriate off grid device to keep it charged just as we saw in Egypt.

  6. No the media is scared… they don’t know how to ‘portray’ this event. The nation is divided in so many different ways that this event can be portrayed by different groups or PAC’s a million different ways.

    Journalists are now SCARED to be journalists due to how PROPOGANDA can cost them their jobs, can cost their company thousands. Our voices have been squelched by fear… and this is precisely what those who want us to be afraid want.

    They want us to be afraid to speak up, to speak out, to point out injustice, to stand up for equality and freedom. They no longer want a land of the free and home of the brave.

    The richest 1% control our nation and they want a land of the ignorant, cowardly and indentured.

    1. “Journalists are now SCARED to be journalists due to how PROPOGANDA can cost them their jobs…”

      Capslock is cruise control for awesome!

      Source on journalists losing their jobs due to propoganda? Apart from Juan Williams, that is…

  7. @Ned613

    If he was concerned with safety (or maximum occupancy), he would be allowing firefighters in but he is not even allowing that as he has blocked them as well so that sort of kills that logic right there.

    1. Did you do any fact checking about Rep. Roys’ claim on Facebook that fire fighters were being turned away? According to the other linked articles cleaning crews are allowed entry to the building so it seems the authorities are addressing hygiene issues of the occupants.

      1. They’re a state representative. They hold more street cred than you. If my state representative is on the scene and says they are not allowing fire fighters in or herself (when she doesn’t show ID), I’m inclined not to call her a liar by default.

        Does your tinfoil hat and conspiracy theorist newsletter say different?

        1. I didn’t accuse rep. Roys of lying. Maybe the Rep. honestly mistook the party as a firefighter. What was the evidence they were firefighters anyway? Were they wearing red helmets and carrying axes?

          1. And oddly enough YES! If you actually were READING (something you obviously are not a fan of) you’d be seeing articles in which they post pictures of the event and show the firemen in FULL REGALIA! So yes, they WERE in complete uniforms. But I know your kind… you’ll try to justify the actions regardless. The fact that this is illegal has no bearing, you’ll stand firm and insist this is an illusion, those weren’t firemen, eye witnesses are delusional, they are violating state law for their own good, etc etc.

      1. never said anything about protesting firefighters. If you read Rep. Kelda Helen Roys tweets on the event, she is talking about them letting in lobbyists but not letting in firefighters. So, they have welded the windows shut, locked out firefighters and denied people food and medical supplies… but they are letting lobbyists in. Whose interests do you think they REALLY have at heart?

  8. Please read the referenced article. It states that the legislature may not prohibit an individual from entering the capitol or its grounds. It says nothing about the Governor or the Capitol Police. And good luck getting a court to uphold the non-existent absolute right of people to enter the Capitol in situations where the Capitol needs to undergo routine maintenance (cleaning) or be prepared for official state business (budget speech). What you’re claiming is that no one at any time can be stopped from entering the Capitol. That simply isn’t true. Good try, though.
    Bottom line: the protesters have been heard. The fact that they haven’t changed the minds of the majority of their elected officials doesn’t mean that they haven’t been heard. It’s time to move on.

  9. Your reference to Article I, §4 says only that “The legislature cannot prohibit an individual from entering the capitol or its grounds.” How does that limit the executive branch?

    My oldest daughter is helping coordinate the protest. I’m a proud papa.

    1. “The legislature cannot prohibit an individual from entering the capitol or its grounds” is an annotation to the article. The text of the article (three parts up from that annotation) reads “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.” – which does include the executive and, well, everybody.

  10. The reason that Libya and Egypt make the news and Wisconsin doesn’t is because Wisconsin has a democratically elected government. There is no “dictator”. People are trying to apply that word because they don’t like the policies being enacted, but the political system is functioning properly and the people have the right to recall their elected officials and to vote new ones in the next time around. It’s called democracy, and it works. Don’t let people confuse you. This isn’t a dictatorship by any definition.

    1. I agree with your distinction – it is an essential difference.
      In this case, citizenship participation over the right to unionize is being displayed with great zeal. I was disappointed to see about 5 or 6 years ago, a similar situation occurred in California when supermarket chains started busting unions for its employees. It didn’t involve state government – only the management of the large grocery chains operating in the state – but they succeeded. Point being that even through strikes and protests and popular backing, the only important determinant to who triumphs is who can sit out a siege the longest. Will union workers have a deep enough war chest to continue paying out members who are foregoing a paycheck? From what I saw in California, it is a fragile system and when people start really suffering, the management, as unpopular as they may be, ends up winning.

    2. You’re right. Wisconsin isn’t a dictatorship, by any measure. But protests don’t have to be people protesting a dictatorship to be news.

      1. The other baddies were elected, not to Egypt specifically, with the exception of the several men who were.

  11. I’m not going to take on the legal issue, but certainly no one expects a Republican. . . or any other politician. . . to be limited by such a simple concept of rule of law. They are, after all, above the law, by custom, with few exceptions.

    1. Right M… running away from the state after the elections — which Republicans won by running on this very issue — is upholding the rule of law.

      When can we expect you to appear at The Laugh Factory?

      1. Source for your claim that the Republicans ran on the policy of removing the right to collective bargain from public unions, please?

      2. The Republicans did not run on a platform that included an end to collective bargaining. It was never mentioned publicly until December 2010.

      3. Link one statement from when Walker was campaigning where he said if elected, he would eliminate public unions’ collective bargaining rights. Just one. Not anything general like, “I’m going to rein in the unions” but where he explicitly promised to eliminate public unions’ collective bargaining rights.

        Otherwise, it’s no different than you hiring me to take care of your leaky roof, which I do by burning down your house.

        1. I don’t recall Lyndon Johnson declaring civil rights for African Americans as policy before becoming President.

          I don’t recall Roosevelt running on “Beat the Nazis”

          I don’t remember Nixon demanding the creation of the EPA.

          I’d rather not undo those 3, but according to your logic…

          Maybe elected officials are not the policies they ran on. Maybe they are a person chosen to make decisions. Right or wrong, what we expected or not.

          1. Which is why we sometimes expect them to make choices we really didn’t want, and have protests as a mechanism for letting them know what we would have voted for.

      4. Yeah sorry Floyd, you seem to be pigeon holing yourself as yet another misinformed zealot. But hey your in good company, fascists everywhere hate liberals, gays, unions, education, etc. How soon can we expect you and Fox news to come out with a goose stepping salute or will in be in the form of line dancing?

  12. Worker’s rights were earned with blood, like most other civil rights in this country. What is it going to take to defend them?

    “The media” does seem to have lost interest in the very important political battle.

  13. Come on Maggie,

    How do you get the illegality of blocking the Capitol building from that? Stretch the meaning much?

    As anyone who practices law knows… the law is full of general rules and reasonable exceptions to those rules. Overcrowding, sanitation, public safety, etc. are all reasonable exceptions to your made up law or even the real law if it is really enforced as you propose.

    Be reasonable. It’s OK to hate Walker and his ideals — but hate them for the right reasons and use sound arguments… grasping at straws is not a sign of strength.

    Besides… you didn’t read the Annotation above the one upon which your argument hangs:

    “Section 947.06, Stats. 1969, which prohibits unlawful assemblies, is constitutional. Cassidy v. Ceci, 320 F. Supp. 223.”

    Wisconsin State 947.06 (1) states: “Sheriffs, their undersheriffs and deputies, constables, marshals and police officers have a duty to suppress unlawful assemblies within their jurisdiction. For that reason they may order all persons who are part of an assembly to disperse. An “unlawful assembly” is an assembly which consists of 3 or more persons and which causes such a disturbance of public order that it is reasonable to believe that the assembly will cause injury to persons or damage to property unless it is immediately dispersed.”

    Federal courts upheld that as constitutional… so if the building needs to be maintained to avoid damage to property… the protesters are in violation of the law. Now that law was passed democratically so I knwo they may have a problem with that, but nevertheless it is the law.

    1. I should say… get the total ban of blocking the Capitol building from that section… sorry for that initial overstatement.

    2. As a corollary – as long as the protesters don’t give any cause to believe that they will lead to injury to persons or damage to property, and as long as they are not blocking access, they do *not* constitute and unlawful assembly.

      I’m sure the police is allowed to restrict the number of people in the building, and the items they bring with them for fire and safety reasons. But asking for ID, and refusing to let people in until everybody leaves, is way beyond their legal limits.

    1. Welding windows …. doesn’t that create a hunger strike ? Foresight does not seem to be the governor’s strongpoint.

  14. Middle class American Dems and Reps are fighting against the same things. They are fighting large monopolies (gov and corp) that make the rich richer and the poor stupid. Its time we start working together to break up these monopolies.

  15. I like the ‘Walker was elected and therefore it’s different from Egypt’ line. Because, of course, Mubarak didn’t win any elections. He just, uhh, walked in there and said he was president, right?

    What’s that, you say (after bothering to look it up), he WAS elected but the election was a ‘sham’ or a ‘farce’ or ‘un-democratic’? You’re right – You’ve got me there. That’s totally different than Wisconsin, where 50% of adults don’t vote, where neither of their grand TWO choices represents anything useful to the majority of adults in the state, and where people have more of a say in the outcome of a Green Bay Packers’ football season than they do in their government’s functioning. Yes. That’s definitely the hallmarks of a Democratic Election Process.

  16. @spool32: “Source on journalists losing their jobs due to propoganda?”

    I’d say the MSM sources are just passively complicit, at best.

  17. I have seen some local coverage of this in my neighboring state. It pretty much reads the opposite of everything I’ve seen here. For example, Maggie wrote that there were rumors that the police would refuse to make arrests. The paper noted that there had been no arrests because (a) nobody was doing anything illegal, and (b) nobody asked them to. Mind you, that’s just another spin, probably ripped straight from a press release off Hizzoner’s desk.

    Similarly, this very article says that they want everyone out of the pool before letting people in. The link says they want some of the people to leave so they can clean, adjust the size of the crowd, and negotiate with the unions over protest rules.

    I frankly trust neither the politicians involved, the traditional media, nor anyone at BB to report this story with any degree of accuracy and disinterest. It seems that everyone who’s interested in this story wants to spin and twist it to suit their fancy, so they can use it to wrench us into partisan camps.

    Thanks to the idealogues, we’ll probably never know what really went down. We’ll just pick our teams and go with the talking points they hand us. Mind you, this rant applies to virtually every event and idea of importance, everywhere, these days.

  18. @Ned613 if gov walker was so concerned about the safety of the protesters, why is he now limiting the entry of food and medical supplies? Why are sleeping bags and sleeping pads prohibited entirely? Sounds more like he wants everyone to starve or get sick sleeping on marble floors and not have anyone around to help.

    skip to 2:17 for comments on restriction of medical supplies

    Yesterday they asked everyone to move to the 1st floor so they could clean the ground floor. Everyone complied quickly and cheered a Zamboni driver on from the upper rotunda while he cleaned the floors. I see no reason why the entire capitol could not be cleaned in this fashion.

    Also, the capitol has a capacity of 9,000, the whole thing is blocks of marble after all. It is nowhere near that number at this time, and definitely won’t get to it during the week. Way to comment on things you have no knowledge of though….

    1. Rep. Roys sounds hysterical to me. Gov. walker is concerned with doing the business of the people of wisconsin so democrats should stop acting like pussies and came back and vote on the issue. Whenever democrats don’t have the votes they resort to sleazy tactics like the way pelosi passed obamacare with reconciliation.

      ’nuff said!

      1. Sounds hysterical? How amazingly sexist. Wow. What are you going to say next that she is on the rag? Regardless, she is there and is an eye witness and others corroborate her story of the state house being locked up and people being denied access and supplies all of which is illegal. These are not the actions of a man for the people.

        I’ve seen people like you who turn a blind eye to injustice and Hitler would be proud to have you amongst his clan. All you need to do is excuse a book burning and the locking up of people based on their religious view, race or sexual orientation.

      2. So the dems resort to sleasy tactics? So how many filibusters occured during the rebublican minority? Do you work? If so you owe alot to the unions for your current job satisfaction and wage. Also, you forget that the unions agreed to give the money, collective bargaining has nothing to do with the budget

  19. Sure is teabaggy in here. I guess the word got out over the weekend that Dirty Dirty Liesâ„¢ were being spread by Socialist America Hatersâ„¢ here on BoingBoing. Can’t have that, now, can we?

    That being said, I believe in their freedom to comment in a civil way, just as I’m free to laugh at them from my desk.

  20. Being there Saturday, I can say that they are limiting the number of people inside the building. When I was there they had only two entrances open & were counting everyone. They stopped letting people in after me until a few others left.

  21. Hello from Madison! It’s true that most of the windows were bolted shut today and that the capitol was closed off to anyone but staff and journalists. Nevertheless, 50+ people are sleeping outside tonight after they weren’t allowed in (with even more protesters holding down the fort inside). It’s below 30 degrees. more expected to sleep outside tomorrow. For videos from the protests, please check out our youtube channel: VoicesOfSolidarityWI and for up-to-date press releases, check out defendingwisconsin.org – thanks so much for the support from afar! It means so much to us here!

  22. Coming in a bit late, but having spent 8 days in the capitol so far, I can assure you that the cleaning and maintenance issue is totally bogus. For one thing, the protesters have been cleaning the building themselves. Sweeping and mopping and picking up trash and the whole deal. In fact, I noticed Tuesday that the bathrooms on the upper floors, where the protesters are no longer allowed, aren’t as clean and tidy as when the protesters were taking care of stuff!

    The cleaning staff are public employees and they thank us for protesting for their rights and we thank them for their cleaning. There is no conflict there, we get out of their way and let them do whatever. The cleaning the governor actually wants is for our lovely protest signs to come down, it has nothing to do with the floor cleaning or maintenance. All that slob talk is bogus, these are the tidiest protesters I have every seen in my life. The capitol is still gorgeous and clean, just covered with protest signs.

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