The Democratic Party of Wisconsin spoke out forcefully Tuesday after it was discovered that the state Capitol had blocked a website that was attempting to organize those protesting Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to strip unions of their rights.
Anyone trying to use the state Capitol's Wi-Fi connection to access www.defendwisconsin.org Monday and early Tuesday received an error message.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Teacher Assistants created the website to share information with protesters and let them know where volunteers were needed. Democratic party officials claimed that it was available at the Capitol until at least last Friday.
"In a direct assault on the First Amendment, Scott Walker's administration is blocking access in the Wisconsin Capitol to opposition websites," Wisconsin Democratic Party press secretary Graeme Zielinski told CNN.
"It seems that we are entering a nightmare period in Wisconsin history in which Scott Walker is drawing all power unto himself, to the point that he feels comfortable blocking the First Amendment rights of protesters at the exact time they are exercising their First Amendment rights," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Michael Tate said in recorded audio message.
"This is undemocratic and it is un-American," he added. "We have seen so many things without precedence from Scott Walker in recent weeks, including blowing up almost seven decades of labor peace."
"We call on Walker to specifically renounce the practice of suppressing opposition websites. We call on him to explain fully how and why this is being done and we call on him to apologize for his administration's attack on our fundamental principles."
In a statement Tuesday, Walker's spokesman, Cullen Werwie, called the claim a "lie."
"The Department of Administration blocks all new websites shortly after they are created, until they go through a software approval program that unblocks them. Within 30 minutes of being notified this website was blocked, DOA circumvented the software and immediately made the website accessible," the statement said.
"Well, that doesn't explain why the website was fully accessible for the entire time it was up, up until they started blocking it on Friday," Tate countered.