MADISON -- The Scott Walker Administration says it will tighten access to the Capitol starting December 16th, requiring permits and payment from protesters. They say they're simply clarifying already existing rules, but protesters say the policies are aimed at silencing dissenting voices in a public place, and call the restrictions a violation of constitutional rights.
The Walker Administration says starting December 16th, protesters would need plans, permits and payment for security and clean up to demonstrate inside the building or on the Capitol grounds. Chris Reeder leads the Solidarity Singers. They're in their 229th straight protest at the Capitol, and in light of the Walker Administration's plans, Reeder reminded fellow protesters what the Constitution says about the public's right to peacefully assemble. "This is blatantly ridiculous, charging people for the right to protest goes against everything that our Constitution is about. We will not be applying for a permit to use our constitutional rights," Reeder said.
Counter-protester John Schaeffer was the lone conservative voice in the crowd. Schaeffer chanted an anti-Obama message at a group of school children, as a chaperone sought to block the message from the students. Schaeffer says he supports the restricted Capitol access, even though he's making full use of his right to protest. "If you're going to bring Wisconsin school children in to hear these really offensive things they have on their signs, and say about Republicans and Scott Walker, I want to be sure they're fair and let me say negative things about unions and our president, Barack Obama," Schaeffer said.
The Department of Administration and the Capitol Police held a public meeting on the issue Tuesday, and there will be two more of these meetings held. The next is Thursday evening.