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Gibson writes: "The Capitol Police have repeatedly violated every part of the oath taken by all law enforcement, are an unnecessary burden on Wisconsin taxpayers and should be abolished."

22 year old Damon Terrell is arrested while taking pictures of a protest in the Wisconsin Capital Rotunda. (photo: Segway Jeremy Ryan)
22 year old Damon Terrell is arrested while taking pictures of a protest in the Wisconsin Capital Rotunda. (photo: Segway Jeremy Ryan)

The Wisconsin State Capitol Police Should Be Abolished

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

27 August 13


"On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution, and will remain loyal to my community and the agency I serve." -Law Enforcement Oath of Honor

've written twice explaining the ridiculous lengths Wisconsin State Capitol Police are willing to go to arrest people for singing without a permit. But on August 26th, the Capitol PD escalated it even more, from merely arresting singers and observers to violently attacking them. This excessively antagonistic behavior exhibited when responding to nonviolent protests is only made worse by the department's chief and top deputy both getting questionably large raises in the midst of the crackdown. The Capitol Police have repeatedly violated every part of the oath taken by all law enforcement, are an unnecessary burden on Wisconsin taxpayers and should be abolished.

Since July 24, State Capitol Police Chief David Erwin has been ordering the daily mass arrests of singers in the capitol rotunda, issuing over 300 citations for "unlawful assembly." In a 40-page ruling in mid-July, a federal judge threw out the Walker administration's rules that groups larger than four require a permit to assemble in public spaces. Judge Conley also wrote in detail about how the Wisconsin state capitol has traditionally been used as a public forum for the people to meet and peaceably air their grievances to their government without fear of arrest or intimidation. Article 1, Section 4, of the Wisconsin State Constitution prioritizes the rights of free speech and free assembly as fundamental rights of every citizen of the state. By arresting nonviolent dissenters for exercising their constitutional rights, Chief Erwin has betrayed the law enforcement oath, failing to uphold the constitution.

Since Judge Conley isn't ruling until January 2014 on new restrictions that forbid groups larger than 20 from assembling without a permit, Chief Erwin is using the lack of judicial precedent to arbitrarily arrest any participant in the Solidarity Singalong. Arrestees have included a sitting city alder, a school board member, two firefighers, teenagers, grandmothers, teachers, journalists, mothers with small children, and many others. On August 26th, two brothers, 25-year-old CJ and 22-year-old Damon Terrell, were both violently arrested in a shocking display of police brutality previously unseen in the state capitol. Even local TV stations have dedicated editorial time to criticizing the Capitol Police Department for "overkill."

This video clearly shows police arresting CJ Terrell for singing. He sits down and refuses to cooperate with an illegal arrest, asking instead for his citation to be issued in the rotunda rather than going through the process of being handcuffed and processed in the capitol basement. His younger brother, Damon, was taking pictures and observing when Capitol Police advanced on him. In the video, you can see him backing away with his hands up before four officers tackle him to the ground without provocation. One officer claimed he was injured while arresting Damon, and Damon is being tentatively charged with felony battery of an officer. At the time of this writing, Damon is still being held in Dane County Jail without bond. While some local media chose to only get the DoA's account of what happened, several eyewitness accounts, including my own, attest that Damon's arresting officer got a small cut on his arm from a reporter's watch as he lunged after Damon, whom he decided to blame for the small injury. Through his brutal means of enforcement, Erwin has failed the oath he and his department swore to uphold.

Chief Erwin has also directly contradicted Department of Administration policy when it comes to the arrests of singers who don't have a permit. When asked in December of 2011 whether or not violators of the permit policy would be arrested, former DoA spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said, "There's a fundamental misunderstanding of this policy if there was a belief arrests were going to stem from this policy." She was also quoted in a different report saying, "No one is going to be arrested for not being in compliance with the permit policy. It's kind of funny that anybody even thinks that they would be. The standard by which law enforcement will take law enforcement action remains the same." By violating the policy of the agency that oversees his department, Chief Erwin has violated the law enforcement oath, refusing to hold himself or his deputies accountable for their actions.

Chief Erwin was appointed to head the capitol police by Governor Scott Walker after former chief Charlie Tubbs was forced out and shifted to a new position as Dane County Emergency Manager. Many Republicans in Wisconsin were upset at Tubbs' humane treatment of the protesters who occupied the state capitol in early 2011, when he made the decision to talk and reason with the protesters instead of arresting them all and throwing them out. Erwin and the Walker Department of Administration, which oversees the capitol police, are now under scrutiny after it was reported that Erwin and his top deputy, Dan Blackdeer, all engaged in a bureaucratic shell game to circumvent state rules against hefty, spontaneous pay raises for specific individuals.

While Walker gave all public employees a 1% raise this year, he moved Erwin and Blackdeer to two "phantom jobs" within the DoA for just one day, then moved them back to their old positions with double-digit pay raises. Chief Erwin now makes over $111,000 a year, $720 of which was retroactive. Some Wisconsin state legislators have called for an investigation into the pay increases to see if they followed state rules, which forbid retroactive pay increases for public employees.

Exhibit A in the Kissick v. Huebsch lawsuit filed by the ACLU showed that roughly 90% of all arrests ordered by Chief Erwin were dismissed in court. This is clear evidence that Erwin is not only costing the state more tax dollars through his unjustified and excessive salary increase, but also in superfluous court costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars, incurred through Erwin's unlawful suppression of dissent. In gaming the state out of money for an unjustified raise, Chief Erwin has violated the law enforcement oath by betraying the public trust. Erwin should be fired, and the Capitol Police Department should be abolished.

I'm not saying to do away with police protection for elected officials conducting the state's business. But just as the Wisconsin Department of Administration, which oversees the capitol building and the state capitol police, contracts with the City of Madison Fire Department and EMT services, there's no reason they can't also contract with the Madison Police Department for any law enforcement needs.

University of Wisconsin Police Chief Sue Riseling summed it up best in her testimony at a July public hearing on the DoA's permitting rules.

"It is more important that the principles of democracy remain healthy, than it is for a building interior to remain quiet."

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

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+55 # RMDC 2013-08-27 19:36
All state police should be abolished. They are nothing more than gangsters who provide muscle for the ruling elite. They do what they have always done -- keep the rabble (or what they consider the rabble) in line and under control.

In the 60s, the Black Panthers had the right name for them -- "pigs."
+34 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2013-08-27 22:33
Think something "big" is about to happen in this country. Just a quote from a participant on the Bill Maher show a few weeks back.
+2 # MendoChuck 2013-08-28 14:12
Wish you would say who said that????
Something "BIG" could be anything???
+10 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-08-28 08:00
And here's a good opportunity to educate a bit, our good, justice seeking 'cheeseheads' in the precious state of my birth, Wisconsin.

It was handed over to me, while I was investigating/p repping a formal request for DOJ investigation of egregious police torture/brutali zation of peaceful peace demonstrators who, with parade permit in place, were wearing the green shirts with peace signs on them, and carrying peace signs in the 2007 St. Patrick's Day Parade (Google: Colorado Springs Independent, Jan. 10, 2010, "No Peace or Justice").

What got handed to me was the transcript of a speech given here in Colorado Springs (super fusion center of the nations now over seventy fusion centers, from where local authorities are given orders on what to do and how to do it to all we the sheeple) at the Northern Command Center.

The F.B.I. biggie spoke and outlined who now is considered a 'terrorist': peace and justice activists (a.k.a. anarchists), environmental activists, animal rights activists, etc. And, under the anything but patriotic Patriotic Act, the govt. agents can now quash, with no penalization, all constitutional rights and rule of law.

Great St. Michael Moore, the Irish devil (takes one to know one) said it best:


The answer to his and all our similar questions: gone bye bye, and no longer anything but a democracy, but rather a...

-44 # CDS2 2013-08-27 20:23
It is far better to die on your feet than to live under an iron fist....fight back, people! They may have weapons, so arm yourselves. Enough protesters can overpower the police. Suggest you do so at the next singalong...the n strip the police of all weapons, handcuff them, and take them up to the Governors' office. Embarrassing them publicly is one way to effectively retaliate.
+24 # Moefwn 2013-08-27 22:59
The singalong is, and has always been, a non-violent protest based on the principles of Ghandi. You don't seem to grasp the concept.
-24 # HowardMH 2013-08-28 10:37
CDS2 as you can see from all the negative responses that this country has totally gone to the Wimps just like Obama the Wimp.

I have just one question for the Wimps, How is that Hopei, Changie working out for you so far?
+7 # Radscal 2013-08-28 14:31
And how would you expect the police state to respond to violent self-defense?

No matter how many AR-15s (or even the secret stashes of far more powerful arms) we, the people may have, there is no defense against a SWAT team in an armored personnel carrier, wearing Category IV body armor and armed with automatic weapons and grenades.

And if the police state feels your resistance could be substantial, then there will be no battering ram at your door. A couple of Hellfire missiles will guarantee your right to remain silent.
+1 # Anarchist 23 2013-08-28 19:47
Is that all you can say...are you a parrot who can type? As to 'wimp' the way ObombO is shredding the Constitution, it is clear he is quite determined to destroy things...and men who destroy are by definitions in the male lexicon not 'wimps'. There is nothing wrong with hope; that disillusionment follows elections like Fall follows Summer is a sad commentary on how our candidates are selected, how our government is owned. Maybe you should go beyond slogans.
+2 # RedLeaf 2013-08-28 23:26
I'm hoping you change into a sentient human being who realizes that being the biggest baddest American is not going to solve anybody's problems, including your own.
+3 # reiverpacific 2013-08-28 12:53
Quoting CDS2:
It is far better to die on your feet than to live under an iron fist....fight back, people! They may have weapons, so arm yourselves. Enough protesters can overpower the police. Suggest you do so at the next singalong...then strip the police of all weapons, handcuff them, and take them up to the Governors' office. Embarrassing them publicly is one way to effectively retaliate.

I'm not sure why you are gettin' all these thumbs-down.
They should all be put under citizen's arrest (remember that folks) and paraded around town before being pilloried then jailed at the people's pleasure.
Recall of Walker and his Goons didn't work the last time -narrowly, thanks to the huge injection of funds by the likes of the Koches, so stronger measures are called for!
To the barriers!
+9 # Radscal 2013-08-28 14:25
I am a strong proponent of being armed for self defense.

But, I remember Madison WI as the place where, in 1969, factions within the Peace Movement traded the righteousness of pacifism for the self-righteous egoism of violence.

The power of violence is fleeting; it is known only by the victor, and only until that victor is himself conquered. And conquest is inevitable. "He who lives by the sword," and all.

The power of nonviolence, however, is secure; it is felt by all who witness it, and lives on in their souls, and so is inevitably made manifest time and time again.

Would the legends of Jesus have been told and retold for two thousand years if He'd been just another leader of a failed Jewish revolt? Would Martin Luther King Jr. be revered in D.C. today if he'd been one of the many Black Panthers assassinated by the police?

Pacifism lasts. It spreads. It's infectious. Think of it as a blessed virus.
+70 # DaveM 2013-08-27 21:57
Any law enforcement officer who behaves in this manner has disobeyed not only the oath s/he took, but the law of the land. S/he should be out of a job and stripped of any Peace Officer's (is that irony, or what?) License s/he may possess. When appropriate, criminal charges should be filed.

Under common law, any law-abiding citizen may make a citizen's arrest on witnessing a felony. Assault while in possession of a weapon is a felony, and all law enforcement officers are armed. So....bring your own zip ties and pepper spray, and when the police get out of hand, arrest them.

This will lead to retaliation and arrests, especially at first. But it will attract notice. The more cameras running, the better. They can't arrest or beat all of us--long before that, the court of public opinion will put an end to this nightmare.
+12 # jky1291 2013-08-27 23:18
Might we suggest that Federal authorities come in and arrest state authorities for a clear violation of citizens Constitutional Rights, as had to been done during the Civil Rights Movement? Additionally, should we file civil suits for damages as a result of their criminal actions during the violation of their Constitutional oath while corruptly abusing their power of office?
+5 # MendoChuck 2013-08-28 14:15
"the court of public opinion will put an end to this nightmare."

YEAH! . . . Right
How much do you think these comments from the safety of your computer is going to change anything?
+58 # L. Sabransky 2013-08-27 22:06
All of these police receive their marching orders from the head Fascist, Walker. He's the one who needs to go. And, why isn't Obama intervening? He spoke out after the Trayvon Martin verdict, but where is he when the first violence committed by these police is on an African-America n male, AND he's held without bond???!! What is he, a felon, a murderer, a flight risk?? And, where is the ACLU involved in getting him released?

As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. I've said for 2 years that the Kochs, et al, are using the formerly progressive WI as their Petri dish for experimentation with operation Demolish Democracy. Yet, federal lawmakers and other elected officials have been largely silent. Yet another reason I criticize the DNC every chance I get.
+57 # ligonlaw 2013-08-27 22:12
The foot soldiers of fascism always follow orders.
+53 # Art947 2013-08-27 22:19
When a member of our military are convicted via a courts martial, he or she is frequently required to forfeit all pay and benefits, be stripped of any rank, and be dishonorably discharged from the service. No less a punishment should be imposed on all the law "enforcement" personnel of the Wisconsin State Police Force. However, I guess this will require the citizens of Wisconsin to return to their senses (as a Progressive State) and remove Walker from office as well as the criminal minds that are in the majority of its state legislature.
+64 # AuntieTom 2013-08-27 22:52
Thugs! Isn't this thuggery like what we used to call the Nazi brownshirts?
+11 # mudbike 2013-08-28 09:45
We have the Nazi blueshirts. Same story.
+3 # HowardMH 2013-08-28 10:42
Agree, about the only difference is so far they have not started sending those that are illegally arrested off to concentration camps.

Oh almost forget, they basically did do that with Manning, two years in solitary confinement and much of it naked. I'm surprised he is still almost sane. So much for Obama the Wimp and his transparent administration.
+8 # fliteshare 2013-08-27 23:00
The whole point of non-violence is to get arrested for boolsjit issues until rule-enforcemen t collapses under the logistical load.
Believe me, as soon as cops start to find out that child molesters and such ilk are being released to make room for a bunch of noise makers. They will start to question the wisdom of their orders.
That is what you are out to accomplish! Have the muscle question the brains until humanity sets in.
Take pride in your arrest, it will prove to be worthwhile in the long run. Because you are now on record to have stood up for your principles.
+9 # kalpal 2013-08-28 07:08
Every nation I have ever vistited showed me that police become scofflaws because its a hard job and living within the law makes it very hard. In the USA it is illegal to lie a to a police officer doing his job while it is very much leagal for the officer to lie to you. The courts know and love police lies. makes their job easier. Justice involves a culture of lies.
+4 # fredboy 2013-08-28 07:22
Once spent a wonderful morning exploring the nearly vacant Wisconsin capitol. Even climbed to the secret door leading to the beautiful domed ceiling. Met several kind and helpful people working there.

Now it has apparently become a shit hole, seething with viciousness.

What happened, Wisconsin?
+14 # wwway 2013-08-28 07:24
I don't know if something big is about to happen in this country. In my family and circle there's an erie denial, resignation or complancency. My husband and I feel like we are fighting to keep what they don't know, want or care about but need and will desperately want in 20/30 years after struggling so hard now. I'm not sure how much more I can take of STUPID people.
Someone mentioned the thuggery of the Nazi browshirts. German citizens chose to live in denial, resignation and complancency.
+6 # Rick Mason 2013-08-28 09:09
In the current environment, it appears that most police departments in America are nothing more than employment agencies for out of work, mentally deranged ex-soldiers who can't do anything else but be bullies! These 'people', and I use that word loosely, have no business protecting anything. The 'pigs', and those who control them, are out of control and will use the most ridiculous excuses to justify their brutality. I saw a video on youtube that showed a 'pig' shoot a man's dog dead in his own home for barking at police during a misdemeanor warrant arrest! The dog never threatened the 'pigs', and they could have had the arrestee's wife secure the animal, but this cowardly 'pig' chose to just murder it instead. This is the psychopathic mentality that permeates law enforcement in this nation today. I despise all cops without exception, and when I need assistance..... I call a Hell's Angel because I know which side they're on, MINE!!!!
+9 # reiverpacific 2013-08-28 10:13
I received this two days a go from my daughter in Madison, Wisconsin who is a good activist chip off the ol' anti-reaction block.
Scott Walker is now more than ever a goon-squad leader for the appalling Koch Bros' cleverly titled but fooling nobody but those who want to be fooled or cajoled into thinking that they are included, "Americans for prosperity (For some)" -my insertion.
I believe that there are LOCAL CHAPTERS all over the country -including where I live. They tend to work from the shadows and put a velvet glove over the leaden fist, so watch out for these charlatans and finks. All they want is EVERYTHING for an elite chosen club, it's patsies in the owner-media and it's "Clipes" (a Scottish Border word signifying spies, agents provocateurs, finks or betrayers of their own, which should be spat out with top spin on it when spoken, like a toxic projectile vomit you need to get rid of), it's ultimate goal being penury or slave status for the rest of us with no regard for the planet's well-being and stewardship.
Of course, it just fine for a Totalitarian mentality like Walker's to carefully select and appoint his own personal Gestapo or S.S., (A bit like the Dimwits crowd had the former theocracy-seeki ng 'Blackwater" almost serving as the highly-paid Palace Guard) whilst cutting back on a social programs and spitting in the face of his state's history as a former labor union stronghold.
+4 # mari 2013-08-28 11:46
People of Wisconsin why didn't you recall Scott Walker when you had the chance, don't know why you decided not to go through with that recall, terrible decision..Now you're stuck with the Koch Brother's Little Caesar.
+1 # reiverpacific 2013-08-28 19:01
Quoting mari:
People of Wisconsin why didn't you recall Scott Walker when you had the chance, don't know why you decided not to go through with that recall, terrible decision..Now you're stuck with the Koch Brother's Little Caesar.

My daughter tells me (from Madison) that the Koches poured millions into bussing reactionary shills into Wisconsin from neighboring states -I think that this was featured on "Democracy Now!"-, providing them with in transit meals into the bargain -I don't know about booze-, providing them with voter's ID.
Also that the big agra and it's cowed farmers from the rest of the state were propagandized into blocking Walker's recall -yet it was a close thing, which shows that it IS possible but also that the money-in-politi cs always tilts results in the favor of the real owners of the country and their state subalterns.
Also to be frank, the Dems put up a very weak and non-combative candidate against the main goon! They could have used an Al Franken in his place and it might have been a different outcome.
+5 # Radscal 2013-08-28 14:15
So, I was invited to a block party in Madison put on by the Mifflin Street Coop to celebrate the Spring. The city had supplied wooden horses to block the intersections. Music was playing; people were dancing in the street. Of course there was an undercurrent of protest to the war, but this day was a break from protest, a time to celebrate the empowering unity of "The Movement."

Suddenly, a cloud of tear gas began to roll down the street. Immediately, a phalanx of riot-gear wearing police charged down the street, clubbing kids, knocking them to the ground. As I stood there, stunned and frozen in place, I saw a cop walk up to a "hippy chick," also standing still in shock, and club her across the side of her head.

Some of us fought back. "The Mifflin Street Riot" of 1969 lasted for some 3 days.

Soon after I saw a change in the signage made by young members of The Movement. Previously, there were "Make Love, Not War," and "War Is Not Healthy For Children And Other Living Things."

The new signs read "To love, we must live. To live we must survive. To survive, we must fight."

Soon there was "The Days of Rage" in Chicago. Soon there was the Weather Underground and "Bring the War Home" bombings.

The Peace Movement gained the self-righteous power of self-defense on that day. But lost the righteousness of pacifism.

Thank you good people of Madison. You seem to have learned from our mistakes. The police provocations will escalate.
+3 # oakes721 2013-08-28 19:28
Protest is the noisy lyrics and debate of legislation being made by the people while official legislators send out the dogs to snarl and rip at their working effort to produce harmony. Taxes are given to bring about the promises of a peaceful existence ~ yet those who would represent us do nothing to bring people together ~ but everything to keep us apart. Voices raised in harmony ask only we learn to listen.
+3 # bigkahuna671 2013-08-29 17:07
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me." Martin Niemoller had it right, but we can't just speak out timidly, we need to stand up for ourselves. As usual, I see people being slammed on RSNfor speaking out and speaking with anger. The same people who attack the Far Right for being judgmental and extreme are doing exactly the same thing here. Think!!! Are we to stand by like the Jews and allow ourselves to be crushed because we should act as Moefwn writes and seems to recommend, "...the singalong is and always has been a non-violent protest based on the principles of Gandhi?" I suspect, I, as others who've stood up on this page and said we must take back our government, will be slammed and criticized for not being willing to sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya!!! As for our President, he's no better than Walker, Scott, Perry, and the rest of the phonies. When is he going to stand up for us and use his Executive power to good purpose?
+2 # DickC 2013-08-30 14:46
Good will never win out over evil as long as evil has the will of the people. Americans are as evil as can be, and people such as those in Wisconsin are the demons who lead the way into totalitarianism .
+3 # DickC 2013-08-30 14:48
If a whole state such as Wisconsin is run as a totalitarian regime, then how many other states are being run the same way.

Talk about voter fraud, here again the republicans are the ones perpetrating voter fraud on the people of Wisconsin.

If the wealthy republicans such as the Kochs can corrupt the political process with money, how many other places are the wealthy corrupting the political process?
+2 # DickC 2013-08-30 14:50
Should Wisconsin ever get it's mind back from the influence peddlers, this Walker guy needs to be removed for fraud, criminal conspiracy and at least a dozen other criminal charges.

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