Scott Walker: First Amendment, sure, but not for Free
How much is it worth to you to be able to exercise the First Amendment right to Free Assembly? In Wisconsin, the going rate starts at $50/hour.
Groups of four or more people must obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings and apply for those permits at least 72 hours in advance. The policy requires permits for 100 or more people outside the Capitol. The policy does provide some leeway for spontaneous gatherings triggered by unforeseen events.
Groups holding demonstrations could be charged for the costs of having extra police on hand for the event. Costs associated with a counterprotest could be charged to that second group. The costs would be $50 per hour per Capitol Police officer – costs for police officers from outside agencies would depend on the costs billed to the state. The police could require an advance payment as a requirement for getting a permit and also could require liability insurance or a bond.
This is an example, to TRC, of the short-sightedness of policy-makers. It is true that protests can be terribly obnoxious, disruptive, loud, uncomfortable, ugly, stupid, pointless, racist, offensive, wasteful, misunderstood, small, large, male, female, white, non-white, mixed race, gay, super-gay, anti-gay, and directed specifically at you, if you are Scott Walker. But among all these things, they are also legal and protected by our constitution.
Charging citizens to exercise free speech, even writing the idea down, is awful. Seems by now our government, state and federal, should know to err on the side of granting too much access to constitutional rights, rather than too little. A pattern which has, of late, been creeping up.