In this June 13, 2013, photo Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talke with reporters in Madison, Wis. The behind-the-scenes wrangling in the Assembly between Walker and GOP leigislative leaders and moderate Republican state senators seeking major budget changes ahead of Tuesday's budget debate shows unhappiness with the $70 billion, two-year spending plan as advanced by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee.
Scott Bauer, Associated Press - Ap
DOA grants 3-day permit for Wis. Capitol singers
- Article by: TODD RICHMOND
- Associated Press
- August 31, 2013 - 7:15 AM
MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker's administration on Friday granted protesters a permit to sing in the state Capitol for three days next month.
The state Department of Administration released documents showing that Tom Kasper, of Madison, applied for a permit for the protesters on Aug. 21. Kasper's application sought a permit allowing the "Kapital Singerz," as he spelled it, to use the Capitol rotunda every weekday with no end date for the purpose of "singing, humming by musically-challenged."
In a letter to Kasper on Friday, Capitol Police Deputy Chief Daniel Blackdeer said the permit doesn't indicate a start or end date. He said the administration can't grant a permit allowing a group to use the rotunda indefinitely. Blackdeer instead granted a permit for Sept. 9, Sept. 11 and Sept. 12.
Those who regularly take part in the daily singing protests were wary of the application, saying they don't know Kasper and wondering if he could be a Walker supporter who is trying to undermine efforts to peacefully resist the permit requirement. They said on the three days the permit is in effect, they will sing outside.
"I figured something like this would happen," said Brandon Barwick, a 29-year-old Madison student who regularly sings in the rotunda. "I don't think anyone who comes to this thing needs a permit to exercise their rights. But there are a lot of people on our side we don't know about."
There was no immediate response to a message seeking comment left Friday at a phone listing that may be Kasper's.
Protesters have been gathering in the rotunda almost every weekday for more than two years to sing songs criticizing Walker. The protests are a remnant of the massive Capitol demonstrations against a 2011 Walker bill that stripped most public workers of their union rights.
Capitol Police officers, who answer to Walker's administration, launched a crackdown against the singers last month after a federal judge ruled that police can require groups larger than 20 to obtain a permit to gather in the space. The protesters argue they don't need a permit to exercise their free speech rights. They also contend that they have no leader, so no one can assume liability for any potential damage, which is one of the permit's conditions.
Officers have made more than 300 arrests since the crackdown began. Things turned violent Monday when officers tackled a 22-year-old protester, Damon Terrell. He spent three days in jail on suspicion of felony battery and misdemeanor resisting or obstructing before he was released on bond. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has yet to file formal charges.
DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch hailed Kasper's application as a resolution to the stalemate.
"I am hopeful we can continue down this plan to ensure all citizens have an equal opportunity to enjoy our great State Capitol," Huebsch said in a statement.
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