The protests that have deluged the Wisconsin Capitol are now being wound down -- at least the ones insides are -- with the Capitol Police announcing today that the building will close down on Sunday.
Preparations for the shutdown have already begun, with protesters asked to remove items such as mattresses, tables, chairs, appliances and boxes from the building. On Saturday, protesters will no longer be allowed to bring blankets or sleeping bags inside.
Key quote from the press release:
"We are closing the Capitol for a short period of time for public health reasons, as well as for general building maintenance," Chief Tubbs said. "Everyone agrees that our State Capitol is a source of pride for our state and that we should take a break to take care of the building. People have been very respectful of the building, law enforcement and staff to this point. Since the beginning, protest organizers have worked very cooperatively with law enforcement. Based on discussions with them about the need to return to normal business hours, Capitol Police is anticipating that a thorough cleaning can begin at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. As always, the top priority of Capitol Police is ensuring the safety of everyone at the Capitol. I thank everyone in advance for their cooperation.
Earlier today, as the process was beginning to clear out beds and other equipment, I saw a young protester wearing a green, crossing guard-style vest to mark him as something of a volunteer protest marshal, discussing with two police officers how to coordinate the action.
In an interesting note, one key group is expressing solidarity with the sleepover protesters: The Wisconsin Professional Police Association, whose executive director Jim Palmer called on members to sleep tonight among the protesters.