October 25, 2014

Walker defends Capitol permit policy

As Capitol Police continue to draw fire for a recent crackdown on protesters, Governor Scott Walker says the effort is needed to protect the rights of everyone who wants access to the building.

Under the direction of new Capitol Police Chief David Erwin, officers have arrested and ticketed dozens of demonstrators taking part in a daily sing-a-long in the rotunda. Those individuals are accused of violating a rule that requires groups to obtain a permit from the state. Tickets have also been issued to individuals who are holding up signs or draping banners over railings.

Police unions chimed in this week as well with criticism for the chief, after tickets were delivered to the work places and homes of some protesters, instead of issuing them on site.

Governor Walker on Wednesday defended the chief, saying he’s just enforcing a long-standing rule on applying for permits. Walker compares it to restrictions on demonstrations in the U.S. Capitol, which cannot even take place inside the building.

Walker says Chief Erwin is also responding to concerns that were raised when he took over the position earlier this summer. Those complaints have ranged from loud singing in the rotunda over the noon hour each weekday to staff saying they have been harassed by protesters wandering the building. The governor says those who work and visit the building have rights as well, and they should not have to give up control to just a few people.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (:57)