Madison Sheriff: Officers Won't Be 'Palace Guards'

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, whose territory covers Madison and the Wisconsin state Capitol, says he refused to bar protesters from entering the building as state troopers have done this week, limiting entrance after protesters overran the building for more than a week. The Nation's John Nichols writes:

"When asked to stand guard at the doors that duty was turned over to the Wisconsin State Patrol because our deputies would not stand and be palace guards," said Sheriff Mahoney. "I refused to put deputy sheriffs in a position to be palace guards."

The sheriff and I have walked the Capitol several times in recent days and he has reflected again and again on the importance of respecting the Constitution and maintaining a free and open space for honest debate and dissent.

"I smile everyday at what I am seeing take place in this building," the lawman told me as we walked amid throngs of protesters on Sunday, before Walker's administration ordered an aggressive crackdown on dissent.

The crowds have been noisy and passionate, he said, as might be expected when issues of such consequence are at stake. But they have also been responsible and respectful."They've helped law-enforcement agencies to keep the peace, and we have helped to assure that they can exercise their First Amendment rights," the sheriff explains.

Read the full story at The Nation.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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