MADISON (WKOW) -- Over 100 protesters massed in the State Capitol on Friday, many holding signs without necessary permits, in defiance of police officers, who had arrested protest sign-holders earlier in the week.
The daily protest sing-a-long was staged in the Capitol rotunda, even though disruption to other activities in the rotunda had also been cited as grounds for arrests earlier this week.
Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) told protesters she believed the language of a court decision this week caused State Capitol police officials to back away from enforcing a prohibition on displaying signs inside the building. In dismissing a lawsuit by several capitol protesters, Dane County Judge Frank Remington did state citations for carrying signs in the capitol appeared to be dismissed by prosecutors because there was no related statute or ordinance.
In an interview with Milwaukee's WISN-TV, Capitol Police Chief David Erwin said the lack of enforcement Friday for people displaying protest signs was simply his discretionary decision, and not in response to any court language.
"We went right into protection mode, safety and preserving the peace. That's what we rolled into. Sometimes we do enforcement, and sometimes we just protect and serve."
Erwin said gatherings of groups in the capitol require an authorizing permit. But Taylor said there's ambiguity over the breadth of that permit requirement.
There were no large, permit-sanctioned capitol events Friday in the rotunda to compete for space with protesters, or test the hands-off police policy.
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