By Joe Vitte
If you are a Wisconsin legislator who has the courage to actually look at the faces of people who are in pain, and are not afraid to see the suffering and frustration that this economic nightmare has brought to our country, and our State, then you may have noticed me in the Assembly Gallery, yesterday, October 20.
I had sat down with about one dozen citizens in the People’s Gallery, many who I know were, like me, extremely interested to see, and hear, how our legislature was going to attack the pervasive unemployment in this State, and what bold initiatives our elected representatives were prepared to put forth in order to get workers back on the job.
Joining us in the Assembly was your staff for the Sergeant-at-Arms, and approximately twelve “Peace” Officers, a mixture of Capitol Police and State Patrol.
I wondered why you posted so many law enforcement officials in a democratic forum. I soon discovered that answer as I awaited the introduction of the “jobs legislation”.
You don’t agree with the First Amendment. And because you don’t agree with the First Amendment, you decided to assault any citizen who asserted their Rights under it.
Congratulations! You legislators hit a Grand Slam; you touched all four bags, as you demolished each and every right that our State Capitol’s namesake, James Madison, included in the primary amendment to the US Constitution: Speech, Assembly, Press – and Religion.
You arrested, and removed from the gallery, a woman, for pinning a 4”x6” index card to her shirt, and said that a “sign” was not allowed. Her message: “Rules of the Gallery – Arbitrary”.
Yet, you allowed another woman, with a velcro-attached arm band (which is larger than 4”x6”) with the word “Solidarity”, to remain. And the woman with the pin the size of a salad plate, showing a geographically split Wisconsin? She was ok, too.
Don’t worry that you arbitrarily “missed” those two, because you more than made up for it.
You arrested a man for pinning the following message on his shirt, on an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper:
WISCONSIN CONSTITUTION. Article 1, Section 4
The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.
Any of you legislators see the Constitutional irony in that arrest?
And you threatened to arrest a woman who deigned to display the same freedoms, the exact same text, on the same size paper, on her shirt.
Why didn’t you arrest her? You spared her because her “sign” was sewn on to her clothing.
And yet she was almost arrested because she did not sew the bottom of the “sign” to her shirt. When she offered to remove her shirt, to maintain compliance with your unconstitutional “Rules” of the Gallery, your appointed pit bulls withdrew. I heard that she thanks you for that.
And then you came for me. What was my First Amendment “sin” – in your eyes?
I wore a picture of a Cross. A Cross?
Yes – a CROSS!
My 5”x10” “sign,” not much larger than a Green Bay Packer Super Bowl ticket, hung from my neck by a piece of yarn. The picture of the Cross contained the following dangerous political messages:
“LOVE” – and this – “For God so loved the world,” John 3:16.
You had me arrested, and removed from the gallery, for the Cross, and that message.
Three citizens arrested and removed. None of them allowed to Assemble, or Speak – one of them denied the right to wear the Religious icon of his choice.
And then you assaulted the Rights of the Press.
A journalist, whom you have credentialed, saw your abuse of Citizens’ Rights, and sped from the floor to the Gallery to videotape the arrests. A right to video which has been affirmed by a US Appellate Court. Look it up. You’ve got plenty of lawyers.
You already know that you arrested him. But did your State Patrol thugs tell you that they assaulted him as well? That they pushed him to the floor for asking for the arresting officer’s badge number? And when they prevented him from standing up – that they charged him with resisting arrest?
I understand that three brave legislators stood up to decry your bodies’ assault on all of our freedoms – and when I say all, I mean ALL of us – not just those arrested yesterday. I thank Representatives Pocan, Kessler, and Berceau for their words.
Now, I wonder, where is the action of you, the elected Representatives, who have taken an oath to uphold the Constitutions of Wisconsin and the United States?