Confusion persists at the Capitol, where officials are still refusing to open the doors and allow protesters inside the building.
As of 2:45 p.m., the Capitol remained on lockdown, with only employees, officers and members of the media allowed inside. They are joined by the dozens of protesters who spent the night inside the rotunda, despite efforts to push them out the door.
Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats were attempting to convene a public hearing that would force officials to reopen the Capitol.
According to a statement from the Department of Administration, the building will remain closed until all protesters inside the Capitol have restricted their movements to the ground floor.
Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs would not comment Monday on what exactly the problem was or when it would be resolved. But a DOA statement seemed to target a “family respite center” set up in the north wing on the first floor.
Volunteers manning the center — which has food, drinks, medical and other supplies — have apparently declined a police request to move to the ground floor so that wing can be cleaned. The volunteers, who declined to give their names, said the hallway was being used to provide a protected area for families with small children to get out of the hubbub of the demonstrations.
State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, complained mid-afternoon Monday that dozens of police officers from around the state who are on duty were cooperative but confused about who was in charge or what the plan was for reopening the Capitol.
“There seems to be no chain of command,” Pocan said.
The Capitol Police communications center referred questions to Jodi Jensen, executive assistant of Walker’s Department of Administration. Jensen didn’t answer repeated calls to her office and cell phone, and her office voice mail box was full.
The DOA said when everyone is in compliance, officials will open the King Street entrance, where police have set up a screening area complete with hand-held metal detectors. Crowd size will be adjusted to accommodate the cleaning crews and the preparation for the Tuesday’s joint legislative session and Gov. Scott Walker’s budget address.
Sleeping bags, blankets, mattresses and other items that could help protestors get comfortable inside the building will not be allowed back in.
The lockdown was immediately derided by Democrats, who accused Walker of trying to silence his opponents by keeping them out of the Capitol.
Pocan caused a ruckus around noon when he tried to enter through a side door. He was joined by dozens of firefighters, many of them carrying signs in support of union workers.
“You can’t stop the function of state government, just because Gov. Scott Walker says so,” Pocan yelled through the half-open door.
Capitol police allowed the representative and eight firefighters to enter and promised to find a way to let the rest enter the building in time for a hearing that Pocan was attempting to convene.
The meeting would be a continuation of an earlier hearing on Walker’s budget repair bill, which ran for several days without stopping. The goal of such a meeting is to force the Capitol back open and allow the camping protesters back into the rotunda.
Protesters have filled the Capitol for two weeks, turning the historic building into a sort of protest village, complete with first aid centers, scheduled events and family centers. Capitol police started on Friday enforcing a new set of rules for the rotunda, most of them aimed at ending the situation.
On Sunday, Capitol police attempted to peacefully remove the remaining protesters. An ardent group refused to go and were still inside the building Monday. Most have complied with the new rules, including staying on the ground floor. A few have not, which has led to the standoff.
“My grandfather helped build this building,” said LaVorn Dvorak, a retired social worker from Brooklyn, who was stuck outside for two hours in below-freezing temperatures. “I expect to be able to get in. Now they’re telling us we can’t get in to our own statehouse.”
As Dvorak spoke, chants arose including “Let us in — please.” And “Whose house?” “Our house!”
Meanwhile, the man who is organizing a recall effort against the governor filed a hand-written request for an injunction in U.S. District Court in Madison Monday seeking to reopen the Capitol. In it, Jeremy Ryan of Defending Wisconsin PAC is seeking $10 million to be paid to the protesters for the alleged violation of their civil rights
Isn't this just making issues where there doesn't need to be one? Why not just move to the first floor and let them clean? Then if they stick to what they said they will allow them back in. They already gave in and let them stay last night.
Answer by UpSheRises at 6:32 PM on Feb. 28, 2011
Answer by lovinangels at 6:37 PM on Feb. 28, 2011
Answer by UpSheRises at 6:49 PM on Feb. 28, 2011
Answer by Sisteract at 6:54 PM on Feb. 28, 2011
Are there normal hours posted on this building? Well, then, the fact that they've been allowed to stay this long is more than fair. They can protest outside. Why do they think they have some kind of entitlement to remain IN the building? I'm mad, so I'm not going to go home!
Answer by lovinangels at 6:54 PM on Feb. 28, 2011
Answer by lovinangels at 6:55 PM on Feb. 28, 2011
Next question overall
How do you know if you are having an ectopic pregnancy?