MADISON (WKOW) -- Capitol protesters say a new police practice of delivering tickets to alleged offenders' workplaces and homes is disturbing, and a possible attempt at intimidation.
UW-Madison maintenance mechanic Bart Munger tells 27 News two officers arrived at his workplace and issued him tickets for allegedly obstructing access in the State Capitol building. Munger believes the choice to ticket him while at work was an attempt to diminish him at his job.
Brandon Barwick typically leads the weekday protest sing-a-long at the Capitol. Barwick says an officer went to his home to try to deliver a citation to him for his alleged obstruction of access during a recent sing-a-long.
Attorney Patricia Hammel, of the National Lawyers Guild, says citations for alleged, unlawful protest activity are ordinance violations similar to traffic tickets. Hammel says officers do not go to alleged traffic offenders' homes or workplaces to issue tickets. Hammel says such a police tactic could be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate and chill protected free speech.
Capitol Police Chief David Erwin and Department of Administration officials have yet to respond to requests from 27 News on the practice of delivering these tickets outside of the Capitol building.
In an interview last week, Erwin told WISN-TV his police force is trying to preserve free speech rights for all who use the Capitol.
In a published report, Erwin told The Wisconsin Reporter online news site he's concerned about clashes between Capitol users and protesters. Erwin told the website a Red Cross blood drive nurse was allegedly "taunted" by a protester last week, and the incident is under investigation. Red Cross spokesperson Bobbi Snethen tells 27 News a complaint was filed with capitol police over a disruption, but had no information as to whether it involved the targeting of a specific blood drive staff member.
Barwick says sing-a-long participants carried out their protest outside the building to respect the presence of the blood drive.
Erwin has said the sing-a-long activity and protest sign carrying requires a permit under Capitol access rules, and permits have not been obtained. Barwick says the activities are not subject to rules on permits.
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