Policy requiring permits for protests may never be enforced - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Policy requiring permits for Capitol protests may never be enforced


MADISON (WKOW) -- For the second consecutive weekday, hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol to let their voices and signs express their displeasure for the Department of Administration's State Facilities Permitting Policy.

"I think its really important that we have an opportunity to gather and redress our grievances and I think these rules limiting that are completely unconstitutional," said UW Student Cynthia Burnson.

In theory, the policy requires groups of four or more people to obtain a permit from the DOA before holding an event.

But, right now, the DOA is doing nothing to make sure the policy is followed and the protestors know it.

"My understanding is that the policy's in flux and its a little unclear right now exactly what is in place and what's going to be enforced," said protestor Rabbi Bonnie Margulis.

In fact, a DOA official told 27 News last Friday, the agency isn't planning to arrest anyone who violates the policy.

Still, at a news conference Monday, a spokesperson for the ACLU of Wisconsin expressed a desire to work with the DOA on making more changes to the policy, just in case they decide to enforce it.

"We would at least like to have until after the 1st of the year," said ACLU spokesperson Stacy Harbaugh.  "But its also gonna depend upon what happens in the Capitol and how organizations are affected by these rules and whether the DOA chooses to enforce them and what that enforcement will look like."

And Democratic legislators say there are still concerns about the policy that may not come up for quite awhile.

"Are we gonna be responsible, if we're participating in an event and the state is sued because somebody got hurt, or a policeman arrested somebody who got hurt?", asked Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison).  "And that's a very, very good question."

DOA Spokesperson Jocelyn Webster reiterated the agency's stance today that no arrests will be made for violating the policy.

Webster said that if someone is holding an event without a permit, they will be given a permit application and strongly encouraged to apply, but that Capitol Police will take no action beyond that.


MADISON (WKOW) -- The Madison chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will hold a press conference Monday morning to address new rules for protests at the State Capitol.

Those rules were defined by the Department of Administration earlier this month, and require groups of four or more people who want to have an activity or a display at the Capitol to apply for a permit.

The ACLU contends that the rules are unconstitutional, because they step on people's first amendment rights.

The ACLU will hold the press conference in the Capitol Assembly Parlor.

A mass sing-along by protestors is also scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to protest the new rules.

Up to 200 people or more are expected to participate.

Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann will be covering both events and will have live coverage on 27 News at 5 and 6.

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