Video: Wis. Capitol protest arrests turn physical

Tensions have grown in recent weeks as police have cracked down on protesters for refusing to get a permit, resulting in more than 300 arrests


By Matthew DeFour
The Wisconsin State Journal

MADISON — The conflict between protesters and Capitol Police escalated Monday when police wrestled with a man on the floor before carrying him away for arrest.

A police officer was injured during the altercation, according to Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis.

The near-daily Solidarity Singalong had been mostly peaceful for the more than two years protesters have gathered at noon in the Capitol rotunda to sing songs opposing Gov. Scott Walker's administration. But tensions have grown in recent weeks as police have cracked down on protesters for refusing to get a permit, resulting in more than 300 arrests.

Capitol Police Chief David Erwin did not immediately respond to a request for an interview placed with Marquis. Erwin previously has declined interview requests.

Damon Terrell, 22, who Marquis said had to be removed by five officers, was arrested on tentative charges of felony battery and misdemeanor resisting/obstructing.

"When officers began to arrest Damon Terrell, he began to walk away and actively resisted arrest," Marquis said. "Throughout the arrest, officers continued to verbally tell him to stop resisting and to comply with police orders."

His brother, Christopher Terrell, 25, was arrested on tentative charges of resisting/obstructing and participating in an event without a permit. He went limp when officers tried to arrest him, Marquis said.

Both are frequent participants in the Solidarity Singalong.

A video of the incident posted on the Facebook page of The Devil's Advocate Radio program showed three officers attempting to subdue Damon Terrell for about 25 seconds. Once he was pinned on his chest, an officer placed his knee on the back of his head while the other two handcuffed his arms. He was then lifted off the ground and removed from the rotunda.

The video doesn't indicate what precipitated the struggle.

Both Terrells have received multiple citations from Capitol Police since 2011, but most of them were dismissed by the Dane County District Attorney, according to Marquis.

Both were found guilty of misdemeanor resisting/obstructing for an incident in August 2011.

Christopher Terrell also pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge from June 2011.

Police have made arrests and issued more than 300 citations at the Capitol since July 24, mostly for gathering without a permit.

The crackdown followed a federal judge's ruling that let stand a state requirement that groups must obtain a permit to use the Capitol when there are more than 20 participants. The judge, William Conley, struck down the original permit rule that required groups as small as four get a permit.

Since then, Capitol Police have increasingly made arrests, while the number of protesters has grown. Protesters have refused to get a permit, saying they're entitled to sing and gather under the state and federal constitutions.

In addition to the Terrell brothers, there were 13 citations issued Monday for unlawful assembly and one disorderly conduct charge.

Typically active participants in the protests are handcuffed, marched to the basement, processed, photographed and given a $200.50 ticket. Most of those arrested cooperate with police, but some sit, lie down or refuse to walk on their own.

The group of singers started at about 60 Monday, but grew to more than 100 as participants in an outdoor women's rally sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and other groups came inside to join the singalong.

Copyright 2013 The Wisconsin State Journal


McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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