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Saturday, May 28, 2022
'The Odyssey'

Kailen Fleck portrays Odysseus in the University Theatre’s minimalproduction of ‘The Odyssey.’ Photo courtesy of University Theatre.

Legislator discusses citations against Capitol protesters

A state representative held a press conference Thursday to discuss what she said were a growing number of citations due to the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s regulations on protesting in the Wisconsin State Capitol.

State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, held the conference along with representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, attorney Bob Jamboise and individuals who were arrested while protesting at the Capitol.

Current regulations include a requirement that all groups of four or more people who plan to protest to apply for a permit 72 hours before demonstrating. Another regulation prevents protesters from hanging signs inside the building.

The regulations, which were originally introduced in late 2011, have drawn criticism from protesters and activists who say the rules restrict demonstrators’ First Amendment rights.

Additionally, the ACLU, along with University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Michael Kissick, recently brought a case in federal court challenging the protesting restrictions.

During the press conference, Taylor said the recent number of citations has significantly increased, specifically for activities such as holding signs and large gatherings inside the Capitol.

“Approximately 140 citations have been issued since September 2012 for singing, holding a sign, or in some instances for walking in a circle in the Capitol rotunda,” Taylor said. “Despite literally dozens of citations being dismissed … this administration continues to cite people for exercising their constitutional rights.”

Bob Jamboise, a former Kenosha district attorney, who currently represents many of the cited protestors, said the demonstrators who get cited protesting are covered under the First Amendment.

“The people that I’m representing are not criminals,” Jamboise said. “My clients are being arrested for holding a sign in the Capitol rotunda, which was designed to facilitate the voice of our democracy.”

Taylor said she has asked members of the DOA to provide specific reasoning for the increase in arrests, but she said the agency has been generally unresponsive. However, Taylor said she believes cases brought in court will cause the Department of Justice to weigh in on the issue.

“It’s time to have a reasonable discussion about these issues,” Taylor said in a statement released after the press conference.

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