Five people were arrested at the Wisconsin state Capitol on Monday as the Supreme Court heard arguments over whether a bill taking away collective-bargaining rights passed the Legislature legally.
Four people were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct after trying to enter the building without stopping for police clearance through metal detectors, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said. A fifth person was arrested and cited for trying to prop open a door, presumably so others could enter later to avoid police, Tubbs said.
There were no reports of weapons or violence, said Capitol police spokeswoman Lori Getter.
Also on Monday, Madison police cited two people for disorderly conduct following a disturbance inside the foyer of M&I bank, 1 W. Main St. Police said about 30 protesters entered the area between two doors leading into the bank and were told they needed to leave or be arrested. One officer suffered a sprained wrist during a struggle with a demonstrator.
Three demonstrators also were cited for obstructing a roadway after they refused to get out of the street, police said.
Tubbs said 27 people were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct for interrupting Friday’s session of the Joint Finance Committee. All received warnings before their arrests, he said, adding, “They felt they had a passion and they had to do it.”
No problems had been reported in the Supreme Court chamber where legal arguments took place Monday, he said. Passage of the bill at issue had attracted tens of thousands of people to the Capitol in February and March.
About 75 people listened to the arguments, but most were attorneys.
Tubbs said Capitol Police have not had any problems associated with the “Walkerville” protest encampment that began Saturday on city property across from the Capitol.
“People seem to understand our responsibility as law enforcement,” he said.
“What we’re doing is trying to maintain a high degree of security for the Capitol,” Tubbs said, including knowing who’s going in and out and what they’re bringing into the building.
“We are looking into the possibility of opening more doors,” he said, adding, “We have not reached that point.”
Currently, just two of the Capitol’s doors are open.
Tubbs also said the metal detectors installed during the height of the protests might be here to stay.
With temperatures in the 90s expected to continue through Wednesday, Tubbs said, there are concerns that tensions could also heat up. He stressed the importance for people who are out in the heat to have adequate food and fresh water and to limit alcohol consumption.
Tubbs said Capitol Police will be re-evaluating staffing needs with 10 vacancies from recent retirements and officers leaving for other jobs. Currently, 41 out of 51½ full-time positions are filled.
The number of retirements this year is greater than in the past three years, he said, adding that the unrest surrounding Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to eliminate most collective bargaining rights for most public employees and other budget proposals has likely contributed to some retirements.
Capitol police have created a new website to provide updates on security issues at wicapitol.wi.gov.
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