A fundraiser? Or deterrent to the right to FREE speech for the 99%? Either way, this coupled with Obama’s oddly vague new law which “could jail 500,000 Americans”, (Obama [sic] became the first American President to name his own citizens as a threat to his Nations security.”), sounds ominous. Read about that here.
And, back to protest fees…
Walker administration would charge Capitol protesters for police, cleanup
By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
Dec. 1, 2011 |(2137) Comments (<— No doubt)
Madison – Gov. Scott Walker’s administration could hold demonstrators at the Capitol liable for the cost of extra police or cleanup and repairs after protests, under a new policy unveiled Thursday.
The rules, which several legal experts said raised serious free speech concerns, seemed likely to add to the controversy that has simmered all year over demonstrations in the state’s seat of government.
The policy, which also requires permits for events at the statehouse and other state buildings, took effect Thursday and will be phased in by Dec. 16. Walker administration officials contend the policy simply clarifies existing rules.
State law already says public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities, and applicants “shall be liable to the state . . . for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use.”
But Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School, said the possibility of charging demonstrators for police costs might be problematic because some groups might not be able to afford to pay.
“I’m a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion,” he said. “You can’t really put a price tag on the First Amendment.”
The policy says:
Groups of four or more people must obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings and apply for those permits at least 72 hours in advance. The policy requires permits for 100 or more people outside the Capitol. The policy does provide some leeway for spontaneous gatherings triggered by unforeseen events.
Groups holding demonstrations could be charged for the costs of having extra police on hand for the event. Costs associated with a counterprotest could be charged to that second group. The costs would be $50 per hour per Capitol Police officer – costs for police officers from outside agencies would depend on the costs billed to the state. The police could require an advance payment as a requirement for getting a permit and also could require liability insurance or a bond.
Demonstrators may not tape or stick signs to Capitol walls not intended for signs. During the protests hundreds of signs were posted at the Capitol.
Any damage or cleanup after a demonstration could be charged to organizers. During the court fight earlier this year over access to the Capitol, Walker’s administration said the demonstrators had done $7.5 million in damage to the building with the signs and other wear and tear. But almost immediately the administration sharply backpedaled from that claim, conceding the damage was significantly less.
“Our goal is to provide equal and continual access for all Wisconsinites to their state buildings in a way that is reasonable and safe,” Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said in a statement. “This policy ensures our ability to appropriately staff events for the safety of those participating.”
Bob Dreps, a lawyer who handles First Amendment cases including work for the Journal Sentinel, noted that the state can put some restrictions on the “time, place and manner” of free speech. But he said it was “laughable” to define a rally as four or more people.
“They still have to be reasonable on their face,” Dreps said of the rules.
Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said it “makes sense” to have people ask permission to demonstrate and hold other events to ensure that the various groups that use the building can do so effectively. Grothman, however, said he wasn’t sure that four people would amount to a rally.
“Like everything, the important thing is that it will be administered with common sense,” Grothman said.
Chris Ahmuty, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, said some of the rules seemed reasonable, including the definition of a spontaneous protest.
But he said he also was concerned about whether some groups would be turned away from the Capitol because they lacked the means to pay the possible costs. He said he was likewise concerned that the policies such as charging or requiring insurance could be applied by state officials differently according to whether a group supported them.
“It leaves too much discretion to the Capitol Police,” Ahmuty said.
Demonstrations in February and March over Walker’s legislation to repeal most union bargaining for most public employees drew tens of thousands of participants, boosting extra law enforcement costs to $8 million.
During the spring protests, the administration tightly restricted access to the Capitol, prompting a lawsuit from unions seeking to reopen it. Peg Lautenschlager, a former Democratic state attorney general and the attorney for the unions involved in that case, said she couldn’t yet comment because she was still reviewing the policy.
One group that meets every weekday at the Capitol is the Solidarity Singers, a pro-labor chorus that has been singing in protest of Walker’s policies since last spring.
Department of Administration spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said an agency lawyer had reached out to the leader of the Solidarity Singers, Chris Reeder, and would be meeting with him about the policy.
Reeder said his group has been willing to take its singing outside on days when other events such as blood drives are happening.
We believe what we’re doing is protected by the First Amendment,” Reeder said of the new policy.
Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.
- manicchill: Governor Scott Walker’s New Anti-Protest Strategy:… (shortformblog.tumblr.com)
- Walker’s New Plan: Charge Protesters Big Money (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- Wisconsin Governor Walker Wants To Introduce Fee To Protest: Exercising First Amendment right will cost $50 per hour per Capitol Police officer (destructionist.wordpress.com)
- Scott Walker is pissing himself, should win a special political Darwin Award! (dangerousminds.net)
- What Price Would You Pay For Your First Amendment Rights? (jonathanturley.org)