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Instead of walking freely through the capitol building, I was subjected to the myriad humiliations of a woman visiting her husband in federal prison. I was forced to empty my pockets of every dime, expose all my belongings to the scrutiny of a line of officers, even take off my coat so that I could be security-wanded by an officer. I could not walk through the building unless I was accompanied by both a staffer and a police officer, every single step of the way to my representative's office. I was told that I would not be allowed to use the restroom without a police officer in attendence. I had to pass inspection before at least 30 officers, lined up both outside and inside the King Street entrance.
How much time did this humiliating process waste? At least 45 minutes of my time. At least 30 minutes of the staffer's time. Untold hours of the police officer's time. How much money did it waste? I have no idea, but surely quite a bit.
But the loss of time and money is not the point (even though Governor Walker insists that his actions are only about balancing the budget).
The Wisconsin state constitution gives each and every citizen--male or female, young or old, Democrat or Republican, rich or poor-- the right of free assembly within the capitol. We have every right to visit our representatives, to testify at hearings, and to protest bills within our capitol. That right does not depend on our political affiliation, nor does it depend on our governor's whims. We are not a police state, even though that fact seems to have escaped the understanding of Department of Administration, who have chosen to ignore a restraining order from the judge that orders the capitol building to be opened to the public.
The Department of Administration is currently claiming that it has abided by the ruling and has made the building open "enough." But what I was subjected to today when I tried to exercise my rights as a Wisconsin citizen is simply unacceptable.
Objecting to our governor's policies does not make a citizen of Wisconsin a criminal.