Singing Can Get You Arrested in Wisconsin

If you have a song in your heart, better stay clear of Wisconsin’s Capitol: you’re liable to be led off in handcuffs.

This past week over the course of a few days, more than 100 people were arrested and cited for daring to sing protest songs in the state’s government building.

Rather than arresting participants for singing out of key, police officers charged them for merely gathering in the building in the first place. Despite seemingly glaringly unconstitutional, Governor Scott Walker has endorsed new laws designed to discourage protesting. The motivation is obvious: Walker would prefer to screw over his constituents in peace instead of having to hear from the people whose lives he’s ruined.

Although protesters have gathered in the Capitol daily for noon sing-alongs for over two years, this assembly is technically “illegal.” Thanks to Walker’s rules, groups of four or more need a permit to assemble in the building. Agreeing that it seemed unconstitutional, a U.S. District Judge bumped the number of people required to obtain a permit to 20 early in July. Of course, it seems a little arbitrary to declare it unconstitutional to restrict five people’s free speech, but throw out the rules when 25 people come together. As such, that matter will be looked at in a trial scheduled for next year.



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