Labor — March 7, 2011 at 8:02 am

The police state at the Wisconsin Capitol continues, tea party rally a joke


As I wrote about last week, Wisconsin State Representative Nick Milroy was tackled when he tried to enter the Capitol Building on Thursday night. Here’s the video:

This police state environment at the Wisconsin Capitol continues this week. Talking Points Memo is reporting that the key cards of staff AND LEGISLATORS have been turned off, denying them direct entrance to the building. Now all staff must pass through what security checkpoints that closely resemble TSA security checkpoints at airports complete with metal detectors and hundreds of police officers who now literally occupy the Capitol building during work hours.

Milroy has described the situation as an “armed-palace environment” and said that Governor Walker has “basically turned the Capitol into a police state.”

Each legislative office is given eight passes to issue to constituents each day. However, protesters have taken to discarding them as soon as they enter and joining the protest in the Rotunda. Police are responding with this:

We have been attempting to improve constituent access to legislative offices, as best we can, while maintaining adequate security in the Capitol building. The procedure to allocate eight badges to each legislator’s office has worked fairly well, but there have been problems with escorted visitors discarding their badges while en route to or from legislative offices so they can join visitors in the rotunda. This defeats the purpose of the procedure and we are asking your assistance.

On Monday and Tuesday we utilized staff to assist with escorting visitors, however we received feedback that some representatives felt their staff members were overwhelmed with escort requests. So on Wednesday we attempted to use police instead to facilitate escorts. However, we received feedback that this method also had limitations. Therefore, beginning tomorrow, Thursday, March 3, we are requesting a legislative staff member to meet your constituent visitors at the King Street entrance and escort them to your office along with a law enforcement officer.

Any of your office’s eight badges that are not used for the purpose for which they were issued will be taken from your office’s allotment of badges for the day. Continued loss of badges or abuse of the badges’ intended purpose may further limit the availability of badges for your constituents, and after three incidents your office may forfeit its badge allocation altogether until conditions at the Capitol change.

This reads to me like a stern parent scolding a child and employing harsher and more punitive punishments as time passes. With regard to the key cards being disabled, they offer this:

We realize that Capitol staff members have been inconvenienced by the disabling of key card access, however this step was made necessary because a small number of staff members were seen to be abusing the key card access system by allowing some visitors to bypass building entry procedures.

If Capitol staff members can demonstrate they are willing to follow the procedures for building access that are currently in effect, we will consider temporarily restoring key card access and will monitor compliance to determine whether key card access can be permanently restored.

More parental scolding of legislative staffers.

Congressman Milroy appropriately assigns blame where it belongs. Not with the police officers themselves but with Governor Walker.

Milroy doesn’t blame the officers for what happened, and said law enforcement officers “have been doing an exemplary job” since the protests began. Instead, Milroy places the blame on Walker.

“This is just what happens when you just have such poor leadership from the top down,” he said.

Meanwhile, yet another poll is out showing that Walker is acting against the wishes of a majority of Wisconsonites. A paltry 600 people showed up for the Koch Brothers-sponsored Americans for Prosperity rally on Saturday featuring (not) Joe the (not) Plumber. They were, of course, out-numbered by the pro-union protesters that have been there for over two weeks. And, this week, the protests continue.

I’m just sayin’…