Exercising First Amendment right will cost $50 per hour per Capitol Police officer
December 2, 2011
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is making it the official policy in the state to encourage demonstrators to pay a fee in advance of any protest event, as well as applying for a permit.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that protesters will be expected to pay a fee of $50 per hour, per every extra Capitol Police officer that is required to properly police the event.
Walker administration officials contend the policy, which will be phased in before the year end, merely clarifies existing rules regarding protest.
The Sentinel notes:
State law already says public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities, and applicants “shall be liable to the state… for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use.”
The policy also states that police could require an advance payment in order to secure a permit to protest, and could also require liability insurance or a bond.
Inside the Capitol, groups of more than four will be required to apply for a permit at least 72 hours before any protest. Outside the Capitol, the rules extend to protests of 100 people or more. Any damage or cleanup costs could also be charged to protest organisers, under the rules.
“I’m a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion,” law professor Edward Fallone told reporters. “You can’t really put a price tag on the First Amendment.”
The Wisconsin Department of Administration contends that the policy still allows for “spontaneous events… precipitated by unforeseen events.”
Click here to read the complete policy.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The move follows large scale protests in Wisconsin in the spring, led by public employees and unions demonstrating against the Republican-led government’s move to curtail collective bargaining rights and increase the costs of healthcare and pensions.
During the protests, which attracted around 100, 000 people, the Walker administration all but shut down the Capitol by restricting access for protesters.
It also emerged at the time that Walker had considered employing “troublemakers” to infiltrate and discredit the protests, prompting demands for clarification from the Mayor and the police chief of Madison.
Walker made the comments in what he believed was a private telephone conversation with billionaire philanthropist David Koch, a deep-pocketed political ally of Walker. In reality the caller was a reporter from the Buffalo Beast, who recorded the entire conversation.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.