The case goes on.
The protesters (including me) who were arrested on Nov. 1 in the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate Galleries for holding signs or taking pictures had our initial court appearance this morning.
We all gathered outside the courtroom in a buoyant mood. C. J. Terrell, who has been arrested several times this year but not this time, was there with his father, Bart Terrell, who was one of the defendants.
C. J. said, “The case should be called ‘The State of Wisconsin Versus the People of Wisconsin.’ ” Several of us got a kick out of that, as we entered the courtroom.
I sat down next to my fellow defendant Linda Helenblad, who had been arrested on Nov. 1 in the Senate gallery for holding a copy of Article 1, Section 4, of the Wisconsin Constitution, which states: “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall not be abridged.”
Hedenblad, 49, who had never been arrested before, had just reached her breaking point. “It’s too much,” she said, referring to all the reactionary moves of the Scott Walker administration. Hedenblad is an ethics trainer and a continuing ed teacher for an out-of-state university. “I guess that makes me more sensitive to these violations,” she said.
I had told friends beforehand that with any luck, the case would be dismissed.
But that didn’t happen today.
The hearing was before Dane County Commissioner Todd Meurer.
Our lawyer, James Mueller (who is also a defendant in the case), had filed a motion before the court seeking a dismissal of the citations. The motion stated that “the holding of signs, displaying messages, and videoing of officials are constitutionally protected activities.” It added that those activities “have not been legitimately proscribed by the Wisconsin Assembly and the Senate. ” It also argued that the Capitol Police lacked the authority to arrest the 20 defendants, and that the police failed “to cite applicable law and to allege sufficient facts to establish probable cause.”
At the hearing today, Mueller told the commissioner that we were here because of “CD,” which, he said, stood not for civil disobedience but for civic duty. “We expect most of these citations will be dismissed in the near future,” and he warned that if they weren’t dismissed, many more people would come forward to challenge the unlawful restrictions.
Commissioner Meurer said he couldn’t say whether most would be dismissed, adding, “We’ll see what happens.”
Meurer set a pre-trial date for December 16.
We walked outside the courtroom for a group photo and then vowed to keep challenging the tickets.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Police Use Excessive Force against Occupy Movement."
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