MADISON, Wis. - More than 40 protesters arrested by Capitol police during a crackdown on a daily sing-along conducted without permits have pleaded not guilty, and 33 have requested jury trials.
Police have issued 223 citations or recommended charges in the last two weeks against people participating in the noontime "Solidarity Sing-along."
The jury trials will be assigned to assistant attorneys general as part of their regular case load, according to Dana Brueck, Wisconsin Department of Justice spokesperson.
"While new cases of any type add to our workload, we don't anticipate any problem handling these cases, nor do we anticipate that these cases will interfere with our other responsibilities," said Brueck.
Brandon Barwick has been arrested 33 times with the "Solidarity Sing-along."
He expects everyone ticketed or taken into custody for all 223 citations will likely ask for a jury trial also.21425704
But a fund created to support the singers will cover the fee to do that for any protester who applies.
"The first amendment protection fund is there for folks who can't afford to pay that $36, or even that can afford to pay that $36," explained Barwick. "We're there to support them."
Barwick said all of the arrests are for refusing to get permits. And he says the protesters show little sign of stopping.
"If we have accrued another 100-plus arrests in this next week, boy, I don't know," spectulated Barwick. "It's going to be interesting to see what we do."
The protesters sing against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Police began arresting them last month after a federal judge ruled officers can require large groups to get a permit to gather in the building. The protesters refuse to apply for permits, saying they shouldn't need the government's permission to protest the government.
State Justice Department spokesman Steven Mean said a judge will determine whether people will be tried individually or as a group.
If at all.
"The hope is that none of this gets to trial," said Barwick. "The hope is they all get tossed."
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