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Wisconsin Solidarity Singers – numbers swell in response to arrests

affinis's picture

Yesterday and today, Wisconsin Capitol Police conducted mass arrests of the Wisconsin Solidarity Singers.
Pics from today:

Video from yesterday:

The Solidarity Sing-Along began at the Wisconsin State Capitol on March 11, 2011, and, every weekday since, a Solidarity Sing-Along has occurred during the noon hour. From the Solidarity Sing-Along Facebook page: "The sing alongs started up as the large protests and the Capitol occupation were ending. They serve to maintain a continuous progressive, pro-labor presence at the Capitol, as well as providing a place where Union members, activists, and citizens can come together and rejuvenate their spirits through song as we continue the fight against Governor Walker and his Republican allies. One of the many missions of Solidarity Sing Along is to create positive, progressive change through participatory song." Here’s a link to the Solidarity Sing-Along CD "This Is What Democracy Sounds Like".

Yesterday’s mass arrests were the lead story in today’s local paper (and covered heavily on local TV news). Here’s the story in the local paper, and an article at DailyKos.

The Wisconsin Capitol Police arrested a bunch of Solidarity Singers again today, but there were far too many people to arrest us all (numbers swelled enormously in response to yesterday's arrests and the energy was great). I would guess roughly 200 people attending today, with at least 100 in the first floor rotunda who refused to leave when illegal assembly was declared (i.e. appeared willing to be arrested). A total of about 26 arrests were made. Police came in multiple waves, arresting several people at a time. Arrests seemed to be a mix of targeted and random. Here’s a long Storify, including pics of today’s event, from a local paper, article from another local paper, and one set of pics.

The Solidarity Singers is a nice example of a dilemma action. Arresting a bunch of peaceful people who've come together to express themselves in song - arresting people joyfully singing civil rights songs, etc. - seeking to quash free expression is a space expressly designed for it - only backfires on the authorities making the arrests. IMO, dilemma action warrant wider use. Some articles on dilemma actions:
How to Create a Dilemma
The Dilemma Demonstration
Tactics That Tickle: Laughing All the Way to the Win

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Submitted by affinis on

Article by Rebecca Kemble at The Progressive - "Why My Parents Got Arrested in Madison"
"My parents were arrested yesterday. They are 85 and 80 years old. Their crime was singing in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol without a permit.....
It was awkward to be part of the swarm of journalists crowding around my own parents as the police were closing in on them.
When Mom was surrounded by cops who were handcuffing the woman next to her and Mom looked her in the eye singing the verse of We Shall Overcome that says, 'We are not afraid,' I burst into tears. The courage, care for her friend and incredibly centered and peaceful defiance she showed in the face of the overblown police action was deeply moving."

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Got arrested today at the Solidarity Singalong. Roughly a dozen out of the approximately 100 attendees were arrested. Many of the arrests were pretty random (e.g. me; also, another arrestee I spoke to said this was his first time in attendence and he wasn't even singing, since he didn't know the words to the songs). I was wearing a Solidarity T-shirt, so perhaps that was part of why I was marked for arrest.

The Capitol Police had put up a sign that there would be a wedding event at noon, but we couldn't find evidence of a wedding party anywhere on the first, second, or third floor, so then proceeded with the singalong. Others sang outside the Capitol. The singalong began with a benediction by a Lutheran minister, and a Franciscan monk also spoke.

My interactions with the Capitol police were pretty cordial. I was handcuffed, taken to the detention area in the basement, and processed. Recieved a $200.50 citation. The Lutheran minister was also one of those arrested. He had a pre-existing heart condition and had a cardiac incident while cuffed in the detention area. Paramedics were called and he was taken to UW hospital.

Here are a couple newspaper articles about today's events:
More singing protesters arrested at Wis. Capitol
With more Capitol protesters arrested Friday, both sides dig in their heels

There's an ongoing federal court case about this. Here's an ACLU press release: "Judge Says Capitol Free Speech Restrictions 'Create Extraordinary Chilling Effect'". The press release links a preliminary injunction from a federal judge prohibiting the Walker administration from enforcing certain elements of its new permitting process.

Here's more footage of arrests yesterday.

Addendum 2:
From the Facebook site Shit Scott Walker Is Doing To My State:
"Today at noon the Capitol Police had an easel out in the middle of the rotunda informing folks that there is a wedding scheduled in the rotunda at 12:00.
The wedding happened outside and was over by 11:45, but nice try."

Submitted by lambert on

Thinking back, this may be the oldest continuous Occupation in the world.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

>"Thinking back, this may be the oldest continuous Occupation in the world."

That might be true. I normally don't use emoticons, but :-)

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Submitted by affinis on

A couple more elements from today's events at the WI Capitol:

Songs in the Key of Resistance: "Nitro, Nitro: This Man Needs Nitro!"

Franciscan Friar Phil Gerboc "Come and Arrest Me!":

That's me being arrested (thanks to a fellow Solidarity Singer for finding this pic, which he passed along with the message "yep you totally have the blue fist target LOL").