Since March, 2011, participants in the Solidarity Sing Along have gathered in the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda at noon, sang songs of protest for an hour and dispersed. They have done this over 600 times and never applied for a permit for use of the rotunda. The Capitol Police, part of the state Department of Administration, has escalated enforcement of its permit policy in recent weeks, repeatedly declaring the Sing Along an “unlawful assembly” and issuing 188 citations and a similar number of arrests since July. A recent temporary federal court injunction prevented the DOA from requiring permits for groups smaller than 20 people, but left many questions still open. The Sing Along have argued that they don’t need a permit, claiming their activities are covered under free speech and free assembly clauses of the U.S. and Wisconsin Constitution. The DOA believes that it has a right to regulate “time, place and manner” of free speech in any of its buildings, including the Capitol rotunda.
So, on Monday, September 16, 2013, WORT held a debate on this topic. Chris Rickert, Metro columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal, argued the pro-permit position. Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a protestor, videographer and former “Lincoln-Republican” candidate for Governor in the recall election. Arthur argued why he feels no permit should be required.