We wanted to wait a while to give newly-appointed State Capitol Police Chief David Erwin a chance to show just what he meant by more aggressive enforcement of requirements for protesting in the State Capitol. After all the building needs to be a place where elected officials and state employees can effectively work and citizens can safely visit. But after just a week it looks like our worst fears are being realized.
Chief Erwin is making arrests for holdings signs, refusing to clarify exactly what requirements he’s enforcing and apparently refusing to answer lawmakers’ questions. There’s a lot not to like about this approach and the first is freedom of speech and assembly. But this is exactly the kind of 1950’s, military style law enforcement that actually encourages civil disobedience. It’s everything former Madison police Chief David Couper rightly points out is wrong with so much aggressive, short-sighted, combative policing today. We’re beyond that in this city, and that should include our State Capitol. Governor Walker needs to tell the chief to dial it back a bit.