State Watch

‘Reopen Wisconsin’ organizers say protest will go on without permit

“Reopen Wisconsin” organizers announced that Friday’s protest against the state’s stay-at-home order will continue without a permit. 

Organizer Madison Marie posted on Facebook Tuesday that their rally had “officially” been denied a permit to gather to protest Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) order requiring the state’s residents to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The Permit was filed as a courtesy to not ruffle feathers. The Rally is still happening,” she posted, encouraging people to “peacefully assemble” on Friday at 1 p.m.

More than 3,000 people have responded that they plan to attend, and another 12,000 said they were interested. 

Molly Vidal, a spokeswoman from Wisconsin’s Department of Administration (DOA), told The Hill that Wisconsin State Capitol Police denied a permit from an individual requesting an event expecting a crowd of 1,000 people because of the “Safer at Home” order.

She told Madison365 that during the coronavirus pandemic it is rejecting all permits for events inside the Capitol and considering events to be held outside on a “case-by-case basis.”

“DOA will deny permit requests for events that violate the ‘Safer at Home’ order,” DOA representative Vidal told the news outlet. “DOA will also exercise its authority to deny a permit if the event poses a hazard to the safety of the public.”

The organizers had reportedly requested the Capitol to open temporarily so protesters could use the bathrooms since companies had allegedly refused to send hand-washing stations and portable toilets for the unpermitted event. But a later post indicated that the organizers found a solution.

The protest organizers are encouraging people to attend on foot so they can hear the speakers and so traffic is not blocked for emergency vehicles. 

Public health officials and other state officials, including Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D), say the demonstrations are not a good idea as the coronavirus continues to spread. 

“We understand people’s frustration,” Barnes told Madison365, adding, “But we also have our front line workers who are still going to work every day, despite the challenges. What they are calling for is the compromised safety of those front-line individuals.”

Last week, the state extended its stay-at-home order until at least May 26 and closed its schools through the academic year. 

–This report was updated at 2:54 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 permit Protests stay-at-home orders stay-at-home protests Wisconsin

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