UPDATE: Court official disputes rainy, Capitol wedding - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Court official disputes rainy, Capitol wedding, during protest


MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County official disputes a state official's claim a scheduled, state capitol wedding ceremony took place in the rain, as dozens of protesters inside the capitol occupied the building's rotunda.

County court commissioner Daniel Floeter tells 27 News he officiated the wedding ceremony, and said it was held outside the building by design, with no precipitation.

"We did not do the ceremony in the rain," Floeter says.

In a statement Friday, department of administration spokesperson Stephanie Marquis noted seventeen protesters were cited for assembling in the capitol without a required permit, and said the wedding party with a permit had its ceremony outside in the rain.

Marquis has yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News.

Floeter says the only delay in the ceremony just before noon resulted from the brief presence of about fifty school children.

State capitol police officers Friday posted a sign in the building's rotunda, warning demonstrators from a regular, noontime, weekday protest sing-a-long a wedding ceremony was scheduled for the space, had a permit, and should be respected.

Floeter says the Fitchburg couple was probably unaware the ceremony was in proximity to the protest. Noontime protests have intensified since capitol police officers last week began enforcement of permit requirements for groups largely than twenty. Protesters have maintained a permit is not necessary for their activism.

Newlyweds Hleechia Vu and Justin Lubben have yet to respond to a request for comment from 27 News.


MADISON (WKOW) -- For a third straight day, protesters inside the state capitol were arrested, as authorities say a planned wedding in the building was affected by the protest presence.

State officials say seventeen people were cited Friday for failing to have a permit for a capitol event, and fourteen more will receive citations, based on video evidence.

One arrested woman was allowed to be accompanied by a young child as she was led away from the capitol rotunda. Another arrested protester, Rev. Carter Dary, experienced a medical emergency. A UW-Hospital spokesperson says Dary is in fair condition.

The clashes between police officers and protesters have followed a federal judge's ruling sanctioning protests of twenty or fewer people in the capitol without a permit, but leaving members of larger groups vulnerable to enforcement.

Prior to the beginning of what has been a regular,  noontime protest sing-a-long for more than two years, a sign was placed in the building's rotunda, informing the space had been reserved: "There is a scheduled wedding at 12 p.m. Please respect their permit."

Despite the sign, more than two dozen people, with dozens more viewing the singing from a floor above, gathered in the rotunda and refused to leave.

Several protesters and Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) questioned whether a wedding event had received a permit for the time period. 27 News staff members were unable to locate a wedding service somewhere else in the building, or outside on the capitol grounds.

In a statement, Department of Administration spokesperson Stephanie Marquis says the wedding took place in the rain outside the capitol, as wedding party members opted to avoid the rotunda. The permit lists Jason Hanson as the applicant, with the time specified as noon to 12:45 p.m., with the location "...1st floor Capitol rotunda...Not to interfere w/flow of pedestrians."

Arrested protester JoAnna Pautsch tells 27 News she considered herself in the capitol on her own and not as part of any group of twenty or more, and says she will fight her citation for no permit.

Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte tells 27 News justice department prosecutors will handle the cases of those arrested Friday inside the capitol.

The solidarity sing-a-long is normally staged outside the building on the capitol grounds on Fridays. Approximately seventy people gathered and sang on the grounds Friday, as protesters also sang inside.

Marquis says protesters would have been granted a permit to assemble if they had sought one.

Protest singing inside the state capitol rotunda began in 2011 in response to Governor Walker's limits on public employee collective bargaining.

Two state lawmakers have requested a meeting with Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, noting the noontime, protest presence had dwindled in numbers, and was causing no interference or problems, until State Capitol Police Chief David Erwin stepped up enforcement of permit requirements.


MADISON (WKOW) -- Capitol Police officers are arresting singers/protestors for a third straight day in the rotunda, for holding too large a gathering without a permit.

POlice arrested 10 singers in the first half hour Friday.

A group of varying daily numbers has been gathering and singing in the Capitol rotunda every day at noon since the protests over Wisconsin Act 10 began in the spring of 2011.

A federal court ruling earlier this month states the Department of Administration couldn't require a permit to gather in the rotunda for groups of 20 or fewer. The singers/protestors have been gathering in numbers greater than 20 the last two weeks, but Capitol police did not make any arrests or issue any citations till Wednesday of this week.  

Late Friday morning, the Department of Administration sent WKOW 27 News the following statement:

"The group is being cited for not complying with the law and court order that requires them to get a permit.  The Capitol Police have already stated they would approve a permit for the noontime singers if they would apply.  The permit is free and the group could continue to say and sing the same things they are today."

WKOW's Tony Galli is at the Capitol, and will have more on the continued protests and arrests tonight in 27 News.

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