This evening more than a dozen people were illegally and unconstitutionally removed from the Wisconsin State Assembly gallery for silently filming the proceedings. Now three people sit in jail as a result of these illegal, unconstitutional,and politically motivated arrests.
Wisconsin State Statute 19.90 specifies. “Whenever a governmental body holds a meeting in open session, the body shall make a reasonable effort to accommodate any person desiring to record, film or photograph the meeting. This section does not permit recording, filming or photographing such a meeting in a manner that interferes with the conduct of the meetings or the rights of the participants.”
Despite the clear and unambiguous wording of this State Statute, the Assembly Rules forbid filming or photographing from the gallery. Over the course of a 30 minute period the Sergeant‐at‐Arms advised eight people that filming in the gallery was not permitted and warned that they would be removed if they continued to film. These eight citizens, and the other citizens present in the gallery, in no way interrupted or interfered with the proceedings of the Assembly. They made every effort to remain silent and respectful during the incident, even during their removal by law enforcement. They were taken to a room where they were booked and cited for disorderly conduct. These citizens were illegally detained, handcuffed, and escorted out of the Assembly gallery by law enforcement officers.
The Assembly Staff, State Patrol officers, and Capitol Police officers were the cause of any disturbance that occurred during this incident.
Three of those arrested are being further charged with bail jumping following an incident that occurred on September 13th in which they were once again illegally arrested for silently filming in the gallery. Thi Le, CJ Terrell, and Jeremy Ryan have chosen to refuse their $1,000 bail in protest of their illegal, and unconstitutional arrests.
Those who participated in today’s actions in the gallery did so to take a stand against the assembly rules that we believe violate Wisconsin State Statutes, the Wisconsin Constitution, and the United States Constitution. Furthermore we believe that the Assembly Rules have been enforced unequally on citizens trying to exercise their constitutional rights.
CJ, Thi, and Jeremy stand to lose up to nine months of their lives for breaking assembly rules – rules that are broken consistently and were broken concurrently by elected representatives. Between the time that the Assembly reconvened at approximately 4pm and when citizens were removed, both Democrats and Republicans violated Assembly rules dozens of times on the floor of the Assembly. Assembly members were observed breaking a number of their own rules, rules which were revised most recently on January 3rd, 2011. The most common violations were of Assembly Rule 26 concerning conduct in the chamber; specifically section six, which prohibits the use of 2‐way communication devices.
We demand that all charges stemming from filming in the Assembly and Senate galleries be dropped immediately. Additionally we demand that the Assembly Rules be reviewed and made to comply with the laws of the State of Wisconsin. We assert our right to document the public proceeding of our government, and we are confident that the legality of our actions will be upheld if we are forced to defend ourselves against these unconstitutional charges.
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