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Scott Walker and Wisconsin GOP Continue Lockdown in Contempt of Court; Issue Unconstitutional 'Arrest Warrants' for 14 Democratic Lawmakers

Republican leadership issued an unprecedented series of new rules, some of which were quickly assessed by lawyers as flatly unconstitutional.

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"Palace Guard" Maintains Capitol Lockdown In Defiance of a Court Order

Since Monday, March 1, the Capitol building has been in an unprecedented lockdown as the governor attempted to clear the building in advance of his Tuesday budget address. Protesters, Capitol workers, legislators, Congressmen and others were shut out. Windows were sealed shut. The lockdown continued in contempt of court, because a Dane County judge ordered the Capitol to open on Tuesday. When firefighters responding to an emergency call at the Capitol Tuesday, even they were turned away (firefighters have stood with the protesters since the start of the frackass.) Although they were eventually allowed in to rescue a police officer from an elevator, Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said enough was enough. He withdrew his men from the capitol, saying they were not hired to act as a "Palace Guard."

Faced with the problem of getting his supporters in to the Assembly Chamber on Tuesday, the governor and his guard escorted a cadre of lobbyists and well-heeled friends through a utility tunnel that runs from a parking lot across the street, under the Capitol grounds to the building's basement. Madison City Councilwoman Shiva Bidar-Sielaff heard that the tunnel might be being used for this purpose and went to check it out. She found about a dozen police officers guarding the tunnel entrance, some from Milwaukee, some in suits with unknown insignias. She witnessed an unmarked police vehicle screech into the garage. Out stepped Wisconsin's First Lady, Tonnett Walker, who was hustled into the tunnel as if the parking garage was under attack. "It was all very 'Men in Black,'” the Councilwoman said with a laugh, as she watched with a handful of other observers. Other Walker supporters had been bused in earlier; the bus signs and arrows were still up on the walls. 

Not surprisingly, the Governor's plans to cut $1 billion dollars from public education and cap property taxes to force localitiess to balance their budget shortfalls on the backs of teachers and other public workers was greeted with wild cheers. Only about 20 protesters were allowed in, and they were quickly escorted out when one upstart let lose a single “boo.” The Governor's private address took place in definance of a standing court order to open the Capitol to protesters, prompting Democratic assembly leader Peter Barca to question the legality of the whole event under the state's strong open meetings laws.

Desks on the Capitol Lawn

On Wednesday, Assembly Democratic representatives couldn’t get their work done with the Capitol in a virtual lockdown, so they took their desks out on the lawn for office hours. Democratic Rep. Nick Milroy spoke with constituents standing in the freezing cold -- the Wednesday low for Madison was minus 6 degrees, not including wind chill. Milroy relocated his desk, complete with family pictures and trinkets onto the muddy lawn. On Thursday night, Milroy was wrestled to the ground by police trying to prevent him from getting inside the building to his office.

Representative Marc Pocan was so irate with ever-shifting rules and the open access Republican legislators seemed to enjoy, that he issued an “Open Letter to Whoever is Calling the Shots on the Lockdown at the State Capitol,” demanding to know who was in charge and asking for a measure of fairness for the constituents of Democratic legislators.

On Thursday, a lone protestor stood in front of the parking lot which holds the Capitol utility tunnel entrance with a sign "Rat Hole to Walker's Palace."

Court Rules Capitol Shutdown Unconstitutional (Again), Protesters March Out in Victory

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