More than a dozen people were arrested Monday, August 5, at the Wisconsin State Capitol for singing out their grievances against the Scott Walker Administration in the rotunda without a permit. This is the second week that Capitol Police have declared the Solidarity Sing Along an unlawful event and taken people out of the rotunda in handcuffs to issue them a $200.50 citation.

During the arrests, Officer Michael J. Syphard grabbed videographer Arthur Kohl-Riggs and threw him to the ground, afterwards calling him "a drama queen" and saying that Kohl-Riggs fell on purpose.

According to on-line court records, last year Syphard was charged with the crimes of Disorderly Conduct (a misdemeanor) and Intimidate Victim/Use or Attempt Force (a felony). Those records indicate that he entered a guilty plea to the Disorderly Conduct charge and the other charge was dismissed. Records indicate that his case remains open, having been referred to the Deferred Prosecution Program.

At least four of the people arrested for singing without a permit were handed long-form legal complaints against them signed by assistant attorneys general containing multiple charges of conducting a rally and/or chalking on the sidewalk dating back several months.

This represents a new strategy. The Capitol Police compile video evidence of alleged violations of administrative rules by one person and send them off to the Department of Justice, where assistant attorneys general then lump the charges together in a single case so they only have to go to court once.

The Capitol Police continue to send citations out to people in the mail as well.

Last week 70-year-old Vietnam veteran Will Williams was arrested for being a participant in an unlawful event. During his arrest he slipped down a set of marble stairs while in handcuffs and was injured. Before the ambulance came to take him to the VA Hospital, Capitol Police gathered his personal data. His citation showed up in the mail at home on Monday.

The Walker Administration's heavy-handed tactics for silencing political dissent seem to be backfiring. Not only have the arrests garnered negative national media attention, it appears as though the officers on the front lines are unable to handle the job given to them. Mishandling medical emergencies and throwing people to the floor will only come back to bite the officers involved.

Initial court appearances for the people arrested on the first day of the crackdown are coming up this Friday. Anyone wishing to support their legal defense fund can donate at

Rebecca Kemble reports for The Progressive magazine and website. She also participates when she can in the Solidarity Sing Along.


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The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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