National Blogs

State Blogs

Blog Detail

  • eXTReMe Tracker
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

« The Internet and Civic Engagement | Main | Heads Up »

March 02, 2011


Kae Warnock

Although numerous large-scale demonstrations have occurred on capitol lawns across the country throughout history, I couldn’t recall an incident where a capitol had been occupied for an extended period beyond those that were mentioned in The Thicket article “Sleeping-in at the Capitol”, 3/2/2011.

I do know of a few incidents where an individual or a group took over the chamber for a few hours, or overnight. But in all of those cases, the police were able to make arrests because the people were armed. FL – 1 protestor stayed overnight in the 1990s and was fed pizza and donuts by Senate Sergeant at Arms, Wayne Todd. CA -- The Black Panthers took over the Assembly chamber in 1967. They only occupied the chamber for a few minutes. OR – 2005 A man held a knife to his own chest and occupied the chamber for about an hour.

However, I decided that the subject warranted a closer look through the NCSL archives for records of large demonstrations inside state capitols. I found several articles describing large protests on capitol grounds and even cases where the protests moved inside the capitol for several hours. However, I found no instances of state capitols being occupied for more than a few hours during the last two decades. When I looked back at older newsletters from the National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA), I did find another occasion where protestors took over the Wisconsin capitol.

In April 1986, the Wisconsin capitol was closed to the public on several days due to a series of anti-apartheid demonstrations. A group of protestors occupied the rotunda for 15 days and about 100 protestors built a shantytown on the east lawn of the capitol. Capitol security and state police tore down the shanties and confiscated the materials and protestors rebuilt the shanties each day for several days in a row. On April 10, 1986, nine hundred protestors erected a final shantytown and demanded a permit to demonstrate. As a compromise, the shanties were allowed to stay on the capitol lawn overnight and were dismantled the following morning. By the end of April 1986, only a handful of protestors remained on the capitol lawn.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Subscribe / Contact Us


The Thicket

TypePad Profile

Get updates on my activity. Follow me on my Profile.

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Legislative Blogs