MADISON -- (WTDY) Capitol Police Chief David Erwin announced on Monday that he will start enforcing the new Capitol access rules and that the State Department of Justice will be prosecuting those civil citations instead of the Dane County District Attorney's office. But even though a large crowd gathered defiantly at noon on Tuesday for the daily Solidarity Sing Along, police made no arrests and issued no tickets.
Brandon Barwick with the Solidarity Singers isn't surprised that the Capitol police decided to delay their crackdown.
"They've been threatening a crackdown of sorts for a long time," said Barwick. "With this many people here, I don't really know what they would do in that situation."
Well over 100 people showed up at Tuesday's Solidarity Sing Along after news broke that Chief Erwin was requiring the protest singers to apply for a permit in order to stage their daily sing-along in the rotunda. The new access rules require groups of four or more, as well as anyone with visual displays, to apply for a permit ahead of time. Barwick believes the permit provision is unconstitutional.
"I'm pretty sure the overall consensus is that we don't need a permit, and people feel pretty strongly about that," said Barwick.
Jonathan Rosenbaum, a regular at the Solidarity Sing Along, has researched the history of the Capitol and has found that the rotunda was explicitly designed to stage these kind of citizen protests.
"To suggest that [the Solidarity Sing Along] should be shut down and/or required only for permitted purposes is simply a violation of the spirit and letter of what this rotunda was built for," said Rosenbaum.