MADISON, Wis. (AP) - For a third straight day, police arrested protesters gathered inside the Wisconsin Capitol on Friday, cracking down on the sing-along organized by opponents of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's administration.
Seventeen people were arrested and led away in handcuffs, and Walker's office said 14 additional tickets will be sent based on video evidence showing who was participating. Since Wednesday, 82 tickets have been issued, with several people receiving multiple citations.
There was no end in sight to the standoff, as protesters pledged to return every weekday and sing without the required permit.
AN OPPONENT OF Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s administration is arrested by Wisconsin Capitol Police Department officers during an assembly in the rotunda of the state Capitol building Friday. For the third consecutive day, capitol police issued citations to protesters for gathering in the building without a permit.
"Every day at noon we're going to be here. We're not going away," a group sang Friday to the tune of the gospel song "I'll Fly Away."
A federal judge three weeks ago said Wisconsin could legally require permits for groups larger than 20, but stopped the state from enforcing its prior permit requirement for groups of four or more. The singers argue their constitutional right to free speech allows them to gather without getting a permit.
Every weekday since March 2011, the singers have gathered for renditions of classic protest songs like "If I Had a Hammer" and "We Shall Overcome," using lyrics that skewer Walker and other Republicans. The "Solidarity Sing Along," as it's come to be known, is an outgrowth of the 2011 protests over Walker's law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers.
The size of the gathering varies from a few to hundreds. Folk singers Arlo Guthrie and Billy Bragg have showed up in the past, but most days, it's largely the same group of locals.