February 28, 2011
Today’s events at the Capitol building illustrate the lengths to which Governor Walker will go to silence the voices of Wisconsin citizens who are demanding respect for collective bargaining rights. Despite the administration’s previously announced commitment to adhere to normal business hours this week, officers have been instructed to severely limit public access to the building. Only those with ‘official’ business were being permitted to enter the building this afternoon and visitors are being subjected to pat-downs and metal detector scans.
“Governor Walker and the Republicans are trying again to shut down freedom of speech and assembly, core Constitutional values,” said Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Madison). “This is part of Walker’s plan to ram the budget despair bill through without letting 28 other Representatives vote. Now he is taking away your rights and freedom to visit the Capitol.”
Democratic representatives have pledged to continue to bring constituents and members of the public into the building. A public hearing hosted by Democrat representatives on the Budget Repair Bill resumed at 2:30 p.m. today. Members of the public who attended this hearing were escorted directly to the hearing room and escorted directly back out and were not allowed to enter the Capitol rotunda.
The only other members of the public allowed entrance to the building today were constituents who were escorted inside by their representatives or by representative staff members.
The peaceful demonstrators who remain in the building after last night’s lockdown face increasingly difficult circumstances. “We have been unable to get any information to the hundreds of people who have been gathering outside all day,” said Itay Gabay, a protester who has been volunteering as a marshal all week.
“Governor Walker is blatantly abusing his power to quell the public dissent and discourse around the Budget Repair Bill and the impending release of the state budget. The citizens of Wisconsin should not accept such blatant disregard for our rights to be inside of the Capitol, peacefully demonstrate, and voice our opinions,” said Kevin Gibbons, Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA) co-president.
The Teaching Assistants’ Association represents nearly 3,000 graduate employees at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is the oldest graduate employee union in the world.
Kevin Gibbons, TAA Co-President: 608-520-3560
Alex Hanna, TAA Co-President: 765-404-6996