Latest: Police vow no forcible removals as protesters hold ground in Capitol
UPDATED 7:51PM ET — Wisconsin state police say they will make no forcible removals of protesters from the state Capitol on Sunday evening.
“A decision has been made to do what they’ve been doing all week long and that is to do everything to keep things peaceful and keep people safe,” Peg Schmidt, spokeswoman for the police command in the Capitol, told the Wisconsin State Journal Sunday evening. “There’s not going to be any forcible removal.”
Officials say they hope to clear the building through voluntary compliance, though the possibility of protesters leaving of their own volition seems nebulous at best. Protesters continue to sing and chant “We Shall Overcome” and engage in ad hoc drumming (choppy video of the singing taken using a mobile phone follows this article).
Around 5pm ET, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs told the Wisconsin State Journal that law enforcement “would monitor the gathering for at least the next hour.”
“We’re still working with organizers and looking for voluntary compliance,” Tubbs said. “No arrests have been made at this point. At this point, we haven’t made any decision on whether to arrest people.”
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, authorities announced the Capitol had closed at 4pm CT/ 5pm ET, but protesters remain embedded in the building. A Facebook page of the event issued a call to action and at least 60 have promised to let themselves be arrested.
“Authorities are working with protesters to make sure the state Capitol closure goes smoothly,” the paper says. “It could take at least 90 minutes to accomplish the task. Those who plan to be “peacefully arrested” have assembled on the first floor, while those who plan to leave remain on the ground floor of the Capitol Rotunda.”
Hundreds remain in the building. Police say they don’t plan to evict protesters soon.
“The desire is that this is voluntary compliance with people leaving,” said Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney told a reporter.
“Law enforcement has been committed to extreme levels of tolerance understanding that democracy sometimes is messy,” he added.
“There is no plan to become confrontational,” he also said. “We haven’t seen that in over 40 years.”
Recent footage appears below. Raw Story is currently searching for additional live footage and or reporting from the ground. Hit us up at [email protected]