There is a power and spirit in song that sustains the human spirit with an eternal foundation more enduring than the earth itself.
David Erwin has embarked on a mission impossible. He has cast himself in a role that has been the doom of many a predecessor as fantastical as the Grinch who stole Christmas and historically psychotic as Stalin and Hitler. Yet, out of ignorance or a self righteous zeal for power and purpose this mere mortal has taken aim at the power of angels and stands on the ashes of those villains of history who have failed in the silencing of song.
David is the new chief of the Wisconsin Capitol Police who is already shuffling along trying to fill the huge shoes of Chief Tubbs. He is bringing a new approach to law enforcement in the Capitol which includes striking a harsh E flat Major in the silencing of song.
I’ve heard there was a secret chord
Chief David Erwin (pictured below) is not the David who played but seems to be a David who really doesn’t care for music, or singing in the Capitol Rotunda. What is it about song that raises the hackles of Chief David? The answer is simple and goes back to the birth of song itself – song flies on the wings of angels and cannot be clubbed or cuffed into submission. Song is the maker of fools and leaves those who attempt to subdue it, as ridiculous as the boy who would attempt to collect the ocean in his little plastic pail.
The Song of the Solidarity Sing Along
Regulars at the Solidarity Sing Along have rode the wings of angels in the Capitol rotunda space on most weekdays at noon for 15 months singing old union songs and folk tunes. I don’t know what the original inspiration was, but it reminds me of the “Singing Revolution’ of Estonia.
The Soviets took the Estonians’ farms and their churches and their freedom of speech, but they could not take away the folk songs that had been passed down from generation to generation. Singing their folk songs had always kept the Estonian spirit alive. “We had no weapons but singing,” says one Estonian. “Being together, singing together, this was our power.
At the link below you will find another link to the movie “The Singing Revolution” on Netflix.
Silencing of Song
Like all the oppressors of song in the past be they Grinch or General the melody of song poses a threat for the unleashing of human spirit that must be controlled and gagged. On some unconscious level authority representing oppression hears song like mouse hears a hawk cry with an instinctual reaction of the threat of power of survival.
Two weeks ago officers began taking notes about the identities of singers and the content of the signs and banners they bring to the Sing Along. The notes consist of physical descriptions of people and quotes from the signs. Free speech activists haven’t let that intimidate them. Rather, they have turned these actions into fuel for more creative displays of free speech. Progressive – “Cracking Down”
The smell of the tactics of Fascism – they come to your door
Yesterday, the new tactic was employed in the silencing of song that is as old as the actions taken in Estonia, Berlin, Poland – an early warning sign for any dark place on the earth. It seems somewhat innocent at first. The authorities do not react to song or arrest the singers in public where people and press are assembled to document the beating down of song. They come to your door where there is no press or witness.
At 4:20pm this afternoon, Jason Huberty answered a knock on his door. It was two Capitol Police officers calling to deliver citations to him and his partner, Lisa Wells.
At 5:30 pm Brandon Barwick was walking through the Capitol building when Capitol Police officer Mitch Steingraeber called him down to the Capitol Police Station to deliver his citation for violating WI Administrative Code 2.14(2)(v) “obstruct access, passage, etc. (no permit).” Barwick is a long-time participant in the Solidarity Sing Along.
UPDATE 5:30 pm Tuesday 9-11
“Bart Munger showed up to his job at the UW Physical Plant this morning to find a Capitol police officer and a UW police officer waiting for him. They were there to deliver two citations for holding a banner at the Solidarity Sing Along the day before. Munger was alerted by his supervisor that the officers were looking for him at his place of employment.
Munger, who lives 35 miles away in Milton, WI, said Capitol Police discovered where he works when he was taken out of the rotunda in handcuffs last week for displaying a sign. He said that when he was in the police station, he was requested to empty his pockets. A Capitol Police detective then opened his wallet and removed all of his credit and identification cards, including his University of Wisconsin employee identification.”
As many of the protest signs and slogans have come and gone, the song has survived. Song will not be silenced in Wisconsin any more than it was elsewhere in time and place. Ride the wings of angels and join in the song of the Solidarity Singers, the people of Estonia, and the hope of the world.
In their own way and in their own time, and using their voices alone, the people of Estonia fought for their independence. Estonian activist Heinz Valk called it “the Singing Revolution.” He says of that time, “Until now, revolutions have been filled with destruction, burning, killing and hate, but we started our revolution with a smile and a song.”
When their capitol was secure, activist Marju Lauristin stood out on the balcony of the building and thanked the people. “We were sure that if you came to help us that you would do it in the way you did. With your intelligence, your songs, your heart. That is when we are at our strongest. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” And the people of Estonia raised their clasped hands to the sky above, and sang.