Lawsuit challenges state’s ban of musical instruments in CapitolA federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Madison seeks to stop the state Department of Administration from banning musical instruments used in protests in the Capitol building.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Madison seeks to stop the state Department of Administration from banning musical instruments used in protests in the Capitol building.
The lawsuit stems from the arrest of a Red Cliff tribal drummer during demonstrations against a bill that would have fast-tracked iron ore mining permits. Ceremonial drummer Sam Morris was evicted from the Capitol and ticketed for violating the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s policy against musical instruments inside the building. The $263 citation was dismissed later.
His attorney Glenn Stoddard says the policy violates Morris’ First Amendment rights.
“At a time when it was very important to have his voice heard and his drumming voice heard, which is the heartbeat of the Ojibwe people, by representatives of the people who were trying to pass a law that would allow a huge open pit mine in northern Wisconsin, his voice was silenced by the police and by those rules of the Department of Administration,” Stoddard said.
The lawsuit names DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch and the police officers involved, alleging violations of the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments. It asks the musical instrument policy be overturned as well as unspecified damages for Morris.
A spokesperson with the Department of Administration wasn’t immediately able to comment on the lawsuit.