More Capitol arrests, authorities say wedding supplanted - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

More Capitol arrests, authorities say wedding supplanted

MADISON (WKOW) -- For a third straight day, protesters inside the state capitol were arrested, as authorities say a planned wedding in the building was affected by the protest presence.

27 News reporters and photographed witnessed more than a half dozen arrests Friday, most for people participating in a rally of more than twenty people in the building without a permit. One arrested woman was allowed to be accompanied by a young child as she was led away from the capitol rotunda.

The clashes between police officers and protesters have followed a federal judge's ruling sanctioning protests of twenty or fewer people in the capitol without a permit, but leaving members of larger groups vulnerable to enforcement.

Prior to the beginning of what has been a regular,  noontime protest sing-a-long for more than two years, a sign was placed in the building's rotunda, informing the space had been reserved: "There is a scheduled wedding at 12 p.m. Please respect their permit."

Despite the sign, more than two dozen people, with dozens more viewing the singing from a floor above, gathered in the rotunda and refused to leave.

Several protesters and Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) questioned whether a wedding event had received a permit for the time period. 27 News staff members were unable to locate a wedding service somewhere else in the building, or outside on the capitol grounds.

Arrested protester JoAnna Pautsch tells 27 News she considered herself in the capitol on her own and not as part of any group of twenty or more, and says she will fight her citation for no permit.

Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte tells 27 News justice department prosecutors will handle the cases of those arrested Friday inside the capitol.

The solidarity sing-a-long is normally staged outside the building on the capitol grounds on Fridays. Approximately seventy people gathered and sang on the grounds Friday, as protesters also sang inside.

In a statement, Department of Administration spokesperson Stephanie Marquis says protesters could have avoided arrest by obtaining the necessary permit.

Witnesses tell 27 News one demonstrator who was arrested for obstructing police, Rev. Carter Dary, experienced a medical emergency. A UW-Health official says Carter is in fair condition.

Marquis has yet to respond to a request from 27 News for information on the wedding permit holder and the specifics of the permitted event.

Protest singing inside the state capitol rotunda began in 2011 in response to Governor Walker's limits on public employee collective bargaining.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Capitol Police officers are arresting singers/protestors for a third straight day in the rotunda, for holding too large a gathering without a permit.

POlice arrested 10 singers in the first half hour Friday.

A group of varying daily numbers has been gathering and singing in the Capitol rotunda every day at noon since the protests over Wisconsin Act 10 began in the spring of 2011.

A federal court ruling earlier this month states the Department of Administration couldn't require a permit to gather in the rotunda for groups of 20 or fewer. The singers/protestors have been gathering in numbers greater than 20 the last two weeks, but Capitol police did not make any arrests or issue any citations till Wednesday of this week.  

Late Friday morning, the Department of Administration sent WKOW 27 News the following statement:

"The group is being cited for not complying with the law and court order that requires them to get a permit.  The Capitol Police have already stated they would approve a permit for the noontime singers if they would apply.  The permit is free and the group could continue to say and sing the same things they are today."

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