There was a huge turnout at the Wisconsin State Capitol for Monday’s Solidarity Sing Along.
Madison, WI - “I don’t think this is the last time you’ll see firefighters coming to the Capitol.” That’s what Ted Higgins a Madison firefighter of ten years who was arrested for singing without a permit at yesterday’s Solidarity Sing Along in Wisconsin’s State Capitol. It was hard to think that the police would follow last Thursday’s indoor Sing Along, which shamefully featured, the arrest of a credentialed journalist, a 14-year old girl, and The Raging Grannies of Madison, but Monday’s Sing Along seemed to be the most powerful and well attended in recent memory. As the arrests add up for singing without a permit, so do the protestors in the rotunda.
The Capitol Police announce that the Solidarity Sing Along must disperse or be subject to arrest for taking part in an unlawful gathering.
The Capitol Police have used Governor Scott Walker’s new administrative rules to ratchet up the recent crackdown on singers, by arresting hundreds of Wisconsinites in the last four weeks. The Sing Along started like any other, with the police making an announcement, on their LRAD, that all assembled participants were subject to arrest for singing without a permit and needed to disperse. These announcements have become quite comical because no participants ever actually leave. Yesterday’s announcement was immediately follow by the joyous raising of individual letter placards, each held by a singer above their heads, spelling out the word “UNINTIMIDATED” in big red letters for all to see. This phrase has become a signature of singers and takes on even greater meaning in the fact that Scott Walker’s coming memoir is also called “Unintimidated”. Well needless to say, the letter holders were the first ones targeted for arrest, as one woman was arrested and her letter was confiscated by the arresting officer as “evidence”. The beautiful thing to see, however, was immediately after the singer and the letter “N” were arrested, another letter was generated (albeit in another color) and a new holder stepped right in to fill the vacated space.
This Overpass Light Brigade poster shows the singers’ message before, during, and after it was targeted by Capitol Police.
This SSA participant was one of the first arrested at yesterday’s Sing Along. She was targeted for holding a letter in the “UNINTIMIDATED” message.
Very soon after the first wave of arrests, a large boo collectively rang out in the rotunda, as the police had next targeted the assembled firefighters, who were making their first trip to the Sing Along, in solidarity with those arrested in the weeks before. The first fireman arrested, Ted Higgins, happened to be wearing his fire helmet, making his arrest quite visible for all to see.
Madison firefighter Ted Higgins is arrested for singing without a permit.
Another Wisconsin firefighter is arrested for asserting his First Amendment Rights.
The arrests continued, with officers prowling the outside of the rotunda and then finally seizing on singers from behind. Every arrestee was walked out of the rotunda and towards a set of elevators, where detained singers were then taken to the basement, and processed. At one point during the hour-long Sing Along a detained singer was being walked to the elevator, when the cop transporting him repeatedly shoved a credentialed member of the press, even as the man announced himself repeatedly as a reporter. This incident was especially angering because last week a journalist working for The Progressive was actually arrested for a very similar occurrence. So even the people documenting the events at the Capitol are now very much in the crosshairs of the Capitol Police.
Two Capitol Cops prowl the outside of the rotunda targeting singers and arresting them.
This Workers’ Independent News reporter was pushed back forcefully by this officer even despite repeated attempts from the reporter to announce himself as press.
In one humorous scene, Monday, a man walked up to an officer, as they were arresting another singer, with a red flower and offered it to the officer. The officer refused the flower and told the man he would be arrested if he didn’t leave the Sing Along. The singers continue to offer peaceful resistance and again and again they are rebuked and threatened with arrest for doing so.
This singer offered an arresting officer a flower but was immediately rebuked and told to leave or face arrest.
The numbers at Monday’s Sing Along were greatly increased from the previous week’s numbers, which were already higher than the previous week’s numbers. One thing that Scott Walker and his Department of Administration have apparently not learned, is that the singers are not going away. They’ve been singing for well over two years and with the recent escalation, Walker can only expect more to come.
The Raging Grannies of Madison have been a fixture for weeks at the Sing Along.
The Capitol Rotunda was packed for yesterday’s Sing Along.
You’ll find information about the history of the Solidarity Sing Along and why participants are fighting to uphold their constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedoms of speech and assembly. You’ll also see how you can donate to help with court costs (not lawyer’s fees) for citizens arrested at Wisconsin State Capitol for SINGING, CLAPPING, HOLDING SIGNS, OR JUST OBSERVING the Solidarity Sing Along. No donation is too small… or too large. Thank you.
Overpass Light Brigade messages in support of and with the participants of the Solidarity Sing Along
We’re Still Here from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.
Find more photos from Monday’s Solidarity Sing Along here.
More video from the day’s events can be found here.