In Rothschild’s account of his arrest he notes that he did nothing more than attempt to take photos, which apparently State Capitol Police believe constitutes Obstructing.
I interviewed Sharon Puttmann, who was holding a sign that said, “United in Purpose, United in Song,” which I took a picture of. I asked her why she was there. “I’m a teacher, and I’m a mom,” she said. “And I’m standing up for my rights.” She’s never been arrested, she told me. But she’s willing to now.
I interviewed Victoria La Chappelle, who was holding a sign saying, “You can tie my hands, but you can never silence my voice.” She’s been arrested twice. “Every time I come, I feel like I need to come back in solidarity,” she said.
I saw that the Raging Grannies were in attendance again, this group of activist elderly women who sing protest songs at various events in the state.
Then I saw some state police officers move in to arrest a couple of the Raging Grannies, including my friend Bonnie Block.
So, as I’ve done every time I’m covering the capitol, I started to take pictures of the officers making the arrest. And then I followed the officers as they took Block, handcuffed and still defiantly singing, toward the elevator.
I was hoping to get a picture of Block as she entered the elevator, the kind of picture that has been taken many times in the last couple of weeks.
But the police officers said to stand back. I said I was a journalist, the editor of The Progressive magazine.
“You can’t be here,” they said.
“I’m with the press,” I said. “I have a right to be here.”
Whereupon, without a warning that I’d be arrested, Officer S. B. Mael grabbed my hands and put them behind my back, cuffed them, and said, “Obstruction.”
I know there’s a healthy contingent of folks who’d rather see the Solidarity Sing Along go away, and while I’ve not shied away from criticizing some protestors for doing more harm than good, I simply cannot see how anyone would argue that the actions of the State Capitol Police are warranted.
The officers of the State Capitol Police have now taken to arresting veterans, grandmothers, 14 year-olds, and elected officials for doing nothing more than exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights, and that doesn’t pass the smell test.