One Policy Wisconsin Should Not Change


I'll say this for the state of Wisconsin: At a time of absurd and intrusive security theater, from the TSA's tactics at the airport to zero tolerance rules at schools, the Badger State has maintained an impressively open capitol. You don't need to go through a security gate to get into the place. Anyone can enter, with or without an appointment, alone or with a crowd. Or at least, they could until this morning:

Wisconsin Department of Administration Executive Assistant today released the following statement regarding continued protests in the State Capitol Building.

"When the State Capitol closed at 4:00 p.m. last night, the majority of protestors voluntarily left the building as requested by the Capitol Police. Of those who remained, all but a few have voluntarily complied with the request of law enforcement to remain in a designed area of the building. Officers in the building are continuing to work with those few individuals to gain their compliance.

"No additional protestors will be allowed into the building until this situation is resolved. Once it is, law enforcement will continue to implement the procedures that were announced this morning. Under those procedures, protestors will be allowed into the building, but crowd size will be adjusted to accommodate the cleaning crews, the preparation for the Tuesday's joint legislative session and the number of protestors who remained in the building overnight."

Meanwhile, "Capitol Police will be stationed at the King Street entrance and can assist members of the public who do not have an appointment, but who wish to see their legislators or meet with others in the building."

Maybe this really is a matter of letting the cleaning crews do their thing, but reading the Madison ACLU's Twitter feed isn't making me optimistic: "Capitol: metal screening, limited doors," "Dividing crowd into 3 lines—scheduled mtg, public hearing, protesters," "windows being welded shut." I'd hate for this standoff to end with construction crews (unionized or not) digging a moat around the capitol.

This should be a transpartisan issue. Wisconsin's permissive public-access policy is a practice worth saving—and if it makes it easier for peaceful protesters to squat in the state house, then I say that's a feature, not a bug. Today the unions, tomorrow the Tea Parties, next week the Juggalos: Stand up for liberty and let 'em all come.