Capitol Police Chief Erwin on Capitol City Sunday - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Capitol Police Chief Erwin on Capitol City Sunday


MADISON (WKOW) -- Capitol Police Chief David Erwin says his only motivation for arresting and citing protesters is fairness to the other groups that acquire permits for their events.

But several state legislators say his approach is a huge mistake.

Chief Erwin is the featured guest on this weekend's edition of Capitol City Sunday.

"I had an experience when I first arrived where I saw a young girl that was startled by some screaming, yelling, excessive screaming and yelling.  You know, I knew right away, I watched her tell her grandma she didn't want to be there and she wanted to leave, and I knew right away, that can't happen," said Chief Erwin.

Its incidents like that, and what Chief Erwin calls the "disruptive behavior" of the Solidarity Singers, that led police to begin cracking down.

"We have practices and people like to push the boundaries and that's why we have laws," said Chief Erwin.  "Its that simple, there are laws and we're trying to follow through in enforcing those laws."

This past week, that's included delivering citations to the protester's homes and workplaces.

Chief Erwin says that tactic eliminates possible distractions at the Capitol.

"We don't want to agitate them, we don't want to give them something to get disruptive about.  And so, we're trying to keep it calm, and the bottom line is law enforcement has done this for years," said Chief Erwin.

But Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), who joined six other Democratic lawmakers in signing a letter to the Department of Administration in opposition of the police crackdown, says there are more who feel the same way.

"There are a lot of insiders in the Capitol, both Democratic and Republican. who are saying, 'he's handling it completely wrong,'" says Rep. Pocan.

Pocan says the arrests are only going to escalate things.

"We've had more people coming back to these sing-alongs and its eventually going to have a potentially embarrassing confrontation.  Its just got the potential for that, and I hate to see that," said Rep. Pocan.

Capitol City Sunday airs at 9:00 a.m., right after This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

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