Tag Archives: capital

Lawyers preparing to defend, protect inauguration protesters in D.C.

The National Lawyers Guild is coordinating with the DC NLG Chapter in preparation for mass protests surrounding the 58th presidential inauguration.

Mass demonstrations are planned for Jan. 19-21 in the capital and across the country.

Large numbers of people are expected to converge in the nation’s capital to protest the swearing in of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president.

The inauguration is National Special Security Event. So the swearing in and other events will be accompanied by an intense degree of policing coordinated by over three dozen federal intelligence, law enforcement and military agencies, with security costs expected to exceed $100 million.

Such high levels of security and policing at previous national events have led to mass arrests, surveillance of protesters, unconstitutional restrictions of permits and free speech and intimidating shows of force by police, according to a statement from the guild.

“Tens of thousands of people are answering the call to resist the incoming administration at inaugural protests next weekend. As always, the NLG is mobilizing its dedicated team of radical lawyers, legal workers, and law students, to provide the critical legal support infrastructure needed for such large scale demonstrations,” said Maggie-Ellinger Locke, DC NLG Mass Defense Chair.

From the various actions on the day of the inauguration to the Women’s March on Washington planned for Jan. 21, the NLG is organizing a mass defense infrastructure of Legal Observers , jail support and lawyers.

Legal observers will monitor on-site at protests and document any arrests and potential abuses inflicted on demonstrators by law enforcement, according to the guild.

The jail support team will handle hotlines, track arrests and assist people as they are released.

Attorneys who can practice in D.C. will represent arrestees and do jail visits.

In preparation for the inauguration, DC NLG members have been holding trainings in the capital, as well as online trainings for those coming from other parts of the country.

The NLG also recently released an analysis of recent trends in protest policing, based on an updated version of the Field Force Operations training manual for crowd control produced by the Department for Homeland Security and FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness.

Get involved

Lawyers, legal workers and law students interested in assisting with legal support can fill out this form to volunteer.


  • Website: dcnlg.wordpress.com
  • Legal Support Hotline:  202-670-6866
  • NLG Know Your Rights Booklets in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali and Urdu.

Wisconsin Republicans celebrate ‘Corruptoberfest’

It seems that in the spirit of the fall season, Assembly Republicans have created their own new way to celebrate  — Corruptoberfest!

The last few weeks have been an absolute embarrassment for Wisconsin.

The Assembly Republicans are working hard to dismantle everything that used to make Wisconsin an example for the rest of the country. They paved the way for our elections to be dominated by corporate money, set in place a system to give government jobs to unqualified political hacks, and disassembled Wisconsin’s highly acclaimed Government Accountability Board. For decades, since the days of Fighting Bob La Follette, Wisconsinites were proud to be from a state that was a national leader in clean and open government. In a very short amount of time, Assembly Republicans have destroyed that.

So, instead of this being the time of year where people are enjoying the beautiful fall colors, watching the Packers and Badgers, or picking out their Halloween costumes, the Republicans have decided that fall in Wisconsin is corruption season.

Happy Corruptoberfest everyone!

Note: The Wisconsin State Assembly this week passed AB 373 by a vote of 57-35. This bill would essentially gut Wisconsin’s exemplary civil service system and encourage corruption and cronyism. AB 373 comes only a week after the Assembly Republicans passed three bills that will tarnish Wisconsin’s reputation for clean and open government.

Madison Mayor Soglin statement on death of Tony Robinson

At the scene of the shooting, I said this is a tragedy beyond description. Today, we begin what will be a difficult period for our city. Madisonians honor and respect the young life of Anthony Robinson. I say this without knowledge of the indispensible facts of what happened Friday night but out of respect for the dignity of every person.

His mother and father, siblings, relatives and friends lost a loved one. His parents are living their worst nightmare. Our hearts, our thoughts go out to the family and friends who are grieving.

Our community has many questions, questions that I share. There will be answers. There is a new state law that mandates an independent investigation into officer involved shootings. Investigators from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation were on the scene immediately last night. We must give them time to do their job.

I met members of the family and members of the community who were at the scene last night and heard their concerns. I talked to Chief Koval and discussed those concerns, while offering support for our police officers and the difficult public service they perform every day. The Madison Police Department has a well-earned reputation as one of the finest departments in the Country.

We all deserve to know the facts in this case. Tony Robinson’s family deserves that, our community deserves that, and the Madison Police deserve that. When the answers come, we will be open and transparent in communicating them.

Our police officers serve us with respect, valor and dignity, a few hour earlier they were faced with hostile gunfire and managed to end that confrontation safely,

On this, the anniversary of the first March on Selma, let us remember the words of Dr. King 50 years ago: “The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.”

The City of Madison, our police officers, our community, and I must and will keep moving forward with compassion, with understanding, with a commitment to facing the facts, finding the truth, and making necessary changes to ensure this great City is always more equitable and just. 

Things to know about Wisconsin Legislature in 2015

Wisconsin’s next two-year legislative session started on Jan. 5 with Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers taking their oaths of office.

Here are some key things to know about the session and issues lawmakers expect to take up:


Republicans control state government for the third straight session after Walker won a second term in November and the GOP expanded their majorities in the Assembly and the Senate. Rep. Robin Vos of Rochester is serving a second straight stint as Assembly speaker. Sen. Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau returned to lead Senate Republicans for the third straight session. Rep. Peter Barca of Kenosha is leadingAssembly Democrats and Sen. Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse is heading up Senate Democrats, but both groups will be all but powerless.


One of Republicans’ first jobs will be developing the 2015-17 state budget, a spending outline for state agencies.

Walker will introduce an initial plan early in the year and the Legislature’s finance committee will spend months revising it before the full Assembly and Senate approve it.

The state faces a $2.2 billion deficit, which will make it more difficult for Walker to enact property tax cuts he promised while campaigning.

Republicans also will have to figure out how to pay for road construction; the state Department of Transportation wants $751 million in higher gas taxes and fees to plug its own budget gap.

This budget is especially crucial for Walker. He’s mulling a 2016 presidential run and the spending plan represents his last, best opportunity for achievements that might play well on the campaign trail in Iowa.


Four years removed from massive protests in Madison over Walker’s law stripping public employees of almost all their collective bargaining rights, Republican lawmakers are mulling right-to-work legislation.

Such laws prohibit unions from requiring private sector workers join them or pay dues as a condition of employment.

Rep. Chris Kapenga of Delafield has promised to introduce such a bill, raising the specter of more protests.

Fitzgerald has said he thinks the Legislature should move on the issue quickly. Walker has said he wants the Legislature to focus on his agenda, not right-to-work, but he hasn’t said he would veto the legislation.


Republicans are looking to loosen or eliminate enrollment caps on the state’s private school voucher program, which gives students subsidies for private schools. The program is now capped at 1,000 kids in schools participating outside of Milwaukee and Racine.


Vos has repeatedly said he wants to overhaul the Government Accountability Board, the nonpartisan panel that oversees Wisconsin elections, ethics, lobbying and campaign finance law. A number of Republican lawmakers want to shift back to a more partisan model.


The Legislature’s newly revamped website, http://legis.wisconsin.gov/, allows visitors to watch bills’ progress, search committee and floor period schedules and follow floor debates in almost real time. The site also offers links to bills from previous sessions, lawmakers’ biographies and their contact information, state statutes and a database of lobbyists.

China’s security matrix prevents another Tiananmen protest

When visiting friends in China’s capital, environmental activist Wu Lihong must slip away from his rural home before sunrise, before the police officers watching his home awaken. He rides a bus to an adjacent province and jumps aboard a train just minutes before departure to avoid being spotted.

In a neighboring province, veteran dissident Yin Weihong finds himself hauled into a police station merely for keeping in touch with old friends from the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement. While he’s technically a free man, the treatment makes it virtually impossible to keep a job or have a normal home life.

A quarter century after the movement’s suppression, China’s communist authorities oversee a raft of measures for muzzling dissent and preventing protests. They range from the sophisticated — extensive monitoring of online debate and control over media — to the relatively simple — routine harassment of government critics and maintenance of a massive domestic security force.

The system has proven hugely successful: No major opposition movement has gotten even a hint of traction in the 25 years since Tiananmen. President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping seems intent on ensuring things stay that way.

“It’s extremely bad right now, much worse than in past years,” said Yin, who spent several months in prison for his role as a student leader during the 1989 protests. “There’s less and less space for civil society or, if you’re like me, even to just live your life freely.”

Each year’s anniversary brings a crackdown on dissent, but this year has been especially harsh, say dissidents and human rights groups. Lawyers and others taking part in even minor private commemorations have been detained. Outspoken relatives of those killed in the crackdown have been forced out of Beijing.

Journalists, including those in the foreign media, have been issued stern orders not to report on unspecified sensitive topics around the June 4 anniversary, with warnings of dire consequences.

“We are seeing a crackdown very large in scope,” said William Nee, Amnesty International’s Hong Kong-based China researcher. “What we have seen thus far under the Xi Jinping government hasn’t been very good.”

Caught unaware and unprepared by the Tiananmen protests, China now anticipates, detects and chokes off political and social activism before it can challenge authorities. Despite a huge rise in prosperity and vast social changes, political activism and organization outside the control of the ruling Communist Party is strictly verboten.

“The authorities are very careful to nip any potential dissent in the bud at the local level, the focus being on ensuring they can’t link up and become a nationwide movement,” said Human Rights Watch Asia researcher Maya Wang.

Yin said China’s rights conditions have deteriorated since party stalwart Xi Jinping’s appointment as general secretary in late 2012. While going after corrupt officials, Xi has demanded strict ideological orthodoxy and pushed a campaign to denigrate liberal values such as Western-style constitutional democracy and the independence of the media.

Government critics and public intellectuals face ever-more-intrusive harassment, Yin said. Liu Xia, the wife of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, is under house arrest and constant supervision. An unknown number of others can leave home or work only with permission.

Some veteran activists say the room for independent organization is tighter than it was in 1989. A limited number of nominally non-governmental organizations are permitted, but they operate only at the pleasure of the authorities and must confine themselves to non-political issues such as environmentalism, child welfare and workers rights.

“It’s OK to hold lectures and conferences, at least in principle, but you can’t really conduct research and seriously delve into the topics,” said Wu, an environmental activist from the eastern city of Wuxi who has endured more than a decade of harassment, including a three-year prison sentence on fraud charges he says were trumped up.

Some degree of labor activism has been permitted, especially in the southern industrial heartland of Guangdong province, but the only legal unions remain under tight government control and strikes are extremely rare.

Independent workers’ rights activists are under constant scrutiny. Anita Chan, a China labor expert at Australia National University, said police are more frequently calling the activists in to “drink tea” _ a form of low-level intimidation. 

And while religious activity is permitted under the auspices of party-controlled bodies, crackdowns have escalated against independent groups such as Protestant “house churches.” In Zhejiang province alone, 64 churches were demolished, had their crosses removed or were threatened, according to Bob Fu, a former dissident and underground church pastor now based in Texas.

Meanwhile, the state has developed increasingly sophisticated mechanisms of surveillance and censorship, taking advantage of technological improvements and a huge boost in domestic security spending. An army of young, computer-savvy censors checks social media and websites and removes content on sensitive topics.

Users of social media such as the hugely popular microblogging and instant messaging applications Weibo and QQ must be registered and identified.

Many foreign websites are blocked, including news outlets and Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Those who care to make the effort can find technological workarounds, such as virtual private networks, but most Chinese appear content with the Internet that the government allows.

The government has come down hard on some outspoken online opinion leaders, detaining many for so-called rumor mongering, including a well-known liberal commentator, Chinese-American investor Charles Xue.

Wang, of Human Rights Watch, said the government is trying to compel people to censor themselves.

“It’s so that when people go about their business, they already consider the potential risks and make sure they don’t even get close to the red lines,” Wang said.

Another standard control method is to restrict travel. Many critics of the government, including Wu and Yin, have been denied passports _ both as a punitive measure and a means to keep them from addressing foreign audiences about China’s problems.

And while Wu can use some ingenuity to visit his friends in Beijing, he said, “As soon as they find I’m gone, they send officers to bring me back. You try to adapt, but it takes a real toll on your family and on you psychologically.”

Shortly after The Associated Press interviewed him, Wu was taken from a friend’s home and interrogated for 24 hours straight.

Despite these efforts, China sees what many of what it calls “mass incidents” threatening social stability. One Chinese sociologist, Sun Liping, has estimated there are about 180,000 per year, ranging from organized marches to spontaneous protests and even violence sparked by anger over working conditions, corruption, environmental degradation and ethnic unrest.

A premium is placed on quickly containing and dissolving such incidents, unlike in 1989, when protests were allowed to build up over more than a month.

The government also has focused heavily on avoiding military force such as the tanks and troops that tore their way through citizen barricades to the heart of the protests in Tiananmen Square, leaving hundreds, possibly thousands dead.

Instead, the government has vastly expanded its domestic security apparatus. Much of the effort has gone into improved training and equipment for the 1.5 million-member paramilitary People’s Armed Police, the Chinese interior security force. Grassroots-level officials and public security department heads have undergone training in responding to unrest.

Meanwhile, the party has tackled many of the major contributing causes of the 1989 protests, devoting funds and attention to fighting corruption, boosting employment and housing and even holding down pork prices. That has eliminated many sources of discontent, though many Chinese remain deeply cynical about corruption among the newly rich and political elites.

“They realize that economic growth is not enough, so the whole strategy is to avoid cases of large-scale unrest through an entire social security package,” said Joseph Cheng. 

Zombiepocalypse trial begins May 8 in Madison

Heard about the Estate of George Romero v. Ashley Williams? The Zombiepocalypse trial begins May 8 in Madison.

The three-day mock trial is part of the National Mock Trial Championship being held at the Dane County Courthouse on Hamilton Street and the state Capitol on Main Street.

About 1,000 people — students, coaches, volunteer attorneys and judges — will be gathering for the event, the culmination of months of work by high school students.

The case involves this fictional scenario: The owner of an energy drink business winds up dead after an evening with friends at a zombie run. The man’s business partner is found not guilty in a criminal court, but the dead man’s estate pursues a civil claim against the partner.

In addition to the trial, students will participate in a zombie-themed costume contest.

Thousands march in D.C. to protest Keystone XL Pipeline

Thousands of people joined the farmers, ranchers, and tribal leaders of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance for a ceremonial procession along the National Mall to protest the Keystone XL pipeline on April 26. The procession was the largest event of the five-day “Reject and Protect” encampment.

“Boots and moccasins showed President Obama an unlikely alliance has his back to reject Keystone XL to protect our land and water,” said Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska, one of the key organizers of Reject and Protect.

Neil Young and actress Daryl Hannah were among the crowd of thousands who rallied on the National Mall and then marched past the Capitol building. “We need to end the age of fossil fuels and move on to something better,” Young told the crowd.

The day’s procession included the presentation of a hand-painted tipi to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian as a gift to Barack Obama.

The tipi represented the Cowboy and Indian Alliance’s hopes for protected land and clean water. The formal name of the tipi is “Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuuxshish” and “Oyate Wookiye,” two names given to Obama by the Lakota and the Crow Nations upon his visit to those Nations in 2008. The title translates from the Lakota and Crow languages, respectively, as “Man Who Helps the People” and “One Who Helps People throughout the Land.”

“Keystone XL is a death warrant for our people,” said Oglala Sioux Tribal president Bryan Brewer, who helped lead the presentation of the tipi to the Smithsonian. “President Obama must reject this pipeline and protect our sacred land and water. The United States needs to respect our treaty rights and say no to Keystone XL.”

Reject and Protect has helped shine a spotlight on the strengthening opposition to Keystone XL among ranchers, farmers and Native American tribes along the pipeline route.

Buoyed by the U.S. State Department’s recent delay of the project, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance has pledged to intensify their efforts to convince President Obama to “reject” the pipeline and “protect” their families, land, water, treaty rights and climate.

“Every time Keystone XL gets delayed it just gives us more time to speak up and tell the truth about this dangerous pipeline,” Meghan Hammond, a sixth-generation Nebraska rancher told the crowd of thousands. Ms. Hammond worked with her family to build a crowd-funded, clean-energy powered barn on her property, directly on the proposed route of Keystone XL.

The five-day Reject and Protect encampment began with a march and opening ceremony on Earth Day on April 22.

On April 23, members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance met with the White House to voice their concerns about Keystone XL and tar sands expansion.

On April 24, the Alliance hosted a protest at the Lincoln Memorial where Rosebud Sioux member Wizipan Little Elk and Nebraska farmer Art Tanderup risked arrest by walking into the reflecting pool with a sign that read, “Standing in the water could get me arrested, TransCanada pollutes drinking water and nothing happens.”

On April 25, the Alliance hosted an interfaith prayer ceremony outside Secretary of State John Kerry’s house, before marching through Georgetown and holding a round dance in the middle of the M St. and Wisconsin Ave. intersection. “The proposed pipeline is going to be coming through our backyard,” said Robert Allpress, a rancher from North-Central Nebraska. “We live in an area that is very slide-prone and TransCanada has never checked that out. They’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and we don’t need them because they’re not beneficial for the United States.”

Reject and Protect also included representatives from First Nations communities living in Alberta, Canada, where tar sands production is devastating tribal land, water and health. First Nations are fighting back by demanding the Canadian government honor their treaty rights.

“We have come to a point where we have no choice left but to lift up our inherent treaty rights — our birthrights,” said Crystal Lameman, a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Treaty No. 6. “The Crown and this Government do not get to pick the pieces of their law it likes and which ones it does not. They made their laws thus they have to abide by them. As First Nations people, we abide by natural law, and there is nothing natural about a people dying from cancer and suffering from respiratory illnesses caused by tar sands production.”

On April 25, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer offered her support for the encampment, “I commend all of the ranchers, farmers and indigenous leaders from throughout our nation’s heartland who have come to Washington, D.C. this week. Although I cannot be with you in person, I want you to know that your presence sends a strong signal to Congress and the administration about the need to protect our communities and families from the impacts of dirty tar sands oil.”

“This is just the beginning. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance will ride again,” said Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb.


No hugs allowed? Madison targets pro cuddlers, spooners, etc.

Madison is a place where just about anything goes, from street parties to naked bike rides. But city officials say a business is pushing even Madison’s boundaries by offering, of all things, hugs.

For $60, customers at the Snuggle House can spend an hour hugging, cuddling and spooning with professional snugglers.

Snugglers contend touching helps relieve stress. But Madison officials suspect the business is a front for prostitution and, if it’s not, fear snuggling could lead to sexual assault. Not buying the message that the business is all warm and fuzzy, police have talked openly about conducting a sting operation at the business, and city attorneys are drafting a new ordinance to regulate snuggling.

“There’s no way that (sexual assault) will not happen,” assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy said. “No offense to men, but I don’t know any man who wants to just snuggle.”

Snuggle House owner Matthew Hurtado hasn’t responded to multiple requests for an interview. His attorney, Tim Casper, said in an interview last month the business is legitimate and Hurtado has put precautions in place to protect clients and employees from each other.

“The concept is obviously a novel one and you can see where they (the city) might be a little skeptical,” he said. “Could something happen? Yeah, I suppose. But they’re taking every precaution.”

In recent days, it’s become unclear whether or not the house is still in business. A posting on a Facebook page claiming to be the Snuggle House’s site said it had closed, but the page owner wouldn’t identify themselves — or confirm if it was the home’s official site.

Madison’s concern seems to be deeper than in other cities where similar businesses have set up shop as cuddling has grown into a cottage industry over the past decade.

Police in Rochester, N.Y., said they’ve had no complaints about The Snuggery, which offers overnight cuddle sessions. Be The Love You Are in Boulder, Colo., offers cuddles with “Snuggle Stars.” Cuddle Therapy in San Francisco offers packages that “focus directly with your current needs around connection, intimacy and touch,” according to its website. Police in San Francisco and Boulder didn’t respond to The AP’s inquires about those businesses.

The nonprofit organization Cuddle Party has trained about 100 people across five continents to run group snuggle sessions, said Len Daley, a psychologist who serves as executive director at Cuddle Party headquarters in Montgomery, Ala. Betty Martin, a Seattle-based sex educator who facilities cuddle parties in that city, said she’s never had problems with government officials or police. Cuddle Party participants must keep their clothes on and go through a pre-session workshop on how to say “no,” she said.

“People think if there’s touch happening there must be sex happening. That’s not the case at all,” Martin said.

Madison might seem like an ideal spot for snuggling. Former Gov. Lee Dreyfus once described the Democratic stronghold as “30 square miles surrounded by reality.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for atheists, is based here. Every year UW-Madison students hold a blocks-long party to celebrate the end of the school year and biking enthusiasts pedal through the streets in various stages of undress each spring.

The Snuggle House sits above a bar about a block from the state Capitol. The only indication it’s there is a welcome mat that reads “Snuggle House.” The business’s website features photos of bedrooms with hardwood floors and videos of four snugglers _ three women and one man — talking about wanting to help people feel better.

Zilavy, the assistant city attorney, said her first thought when she heard about the Snuggle House was “OK, this is going to be a place of prostitution.” She said Hurtado initially had no business plan, no business insurance, no training protocols and no answers when she asked him what he would do if a snuggler was sexually assaulted.

The Snuggle House’s opening was delayed about a month as Hurtado — who filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and again in 2009, according to federal court records — worked to satisfy the city’s concerns. He said he put security cameras and a panic button in each bedroom, promised to perform background checks on clients and adopted rules prohibiting sex, paying for sex, nudity and drugs and alcohol during a session, Zilavy said.

She said no city ordinances address snuggling businesses. She’s drafting regulations that would allow health inspections as well as create licensing requirements. She also planned to take Hurtado up on his offer to watch security footage of a snuggle session and view client rosters. 

Police have been keeping an eye on the Snuggle House as well. Lt. David McCaw said police planned to send an officer into the business as a customer “and test the boundaries of what they said they’re doing.” He likened the operation to routine undercover compliance checks at a bar.

“It’s right at the edge, isn’t it?” McCaw said. “This business is about personal contact between two people for money. … People have different opinions of what they think Madison is and sometimes people are shocked by pushback.”

Protesters, filibuster help stop Texas GOP from passing anti-abortion bill

Hundreds of jeering protesters helped stop Texas lawmakers from passing one of the toughest abortion measures in the country.

As the protesters raised the noise to deafening levels in the Texas Senate chamber late June 25, Republicans scrambled to gather their colleagues at the podium for a stroke-of-midnight vote, The Associated Press reported.

“Get them out!” Sen. Donna Campbell shouted to a security guard, pointing to the thundering crowd in the gallery overhead that had already been screaming for more than 10 minutes.

“Time is running out,” Campbell pleaded. “I want them out of here!”

It didn’t work. The noise never stopped and despite barely beating the midnight end-of-session deadline with a vote to pass the bill, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said the chaos in the chamber prevented him from formally signing it before the deadline passed, effectively killing it.

Dewhurst denounced the protesters as an “unruly mob.” Democrats who urged them on called the outburst democracy in action.

In either point of view, a raucous crowd of chanting, singing, shouting demonstrators effectively took over the Texas Capitol and blocked a bill that abortion rights groups warned would close most abortion clinics in the state.

“They were asking for their voices to be heard,” said Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, who spent nearly 11 hours trying to filibuster the bill before the outburst. “The results speak for themselves.”

The final outcome took several hours to sort out.

Initially, Republicans insisted the vote started before the midnight deadline and passed the bill that Democrats spent the day trying to kill. But after official computer records and printouts of the voting record showed the vote took place on June 26, and then were changed to read June 25, senators retreated into a private meeting to reach a conclusion.

At 3 a.m., Dewhurst emerged from the meeting still insisting the 19-10 vote was in time, but said, “with all the ruckus and noise going on, I couldn’t sign the bill” and declared it dead.

He denounced the more than 400 protesters who staged what they called “a people’s filibuster” from 11:45 p.m. to well past midnight. He denied mishandling the debate.

“I didn’t lose control (of the chamber). We had an unruly mob,” Dewhurst said. He even hinted that Gov. Rick Perry may immediately call another 30-day special session, adding: “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”

Many of the protesters had flocked to the normally quiet Capitol to support Davis, who gained national attention and a mention from President Barack Obama’s campaign Twitter account. Her Twitter following went from 1,200 in the morning to more than 20,000 by late June 25.

“My back hurts. I don’t have a lot of words left,” Davis said when it was over and she was showered with cheers by activists who stayed at the Capitol to see her. “It shows the determination and spirit of Texas women.”

Davis’ mission was cut short but her effort ultimately helped Democrats earn a rare victory in a Legislature dominated by Republicans for more than a decade.

“It’s a bad bill,” said Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin, leader of the Senate Democrats.

The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and force many clinics that perform the procedure to upgrade their facilities and be classified as ambulatory surgical centers. Also, doctors would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles – a tall order in rural communities.

If signed into law, the measures would have closed almost every abortion clinic in Texas, a state 773 miles wide and 790 miles long with 26 million people. A woman living along the Mexico border or in West Texas would have to drive hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion if the law passed. The law’s provision that abortions be performed at surgical centers means only five of Texas’ 42 abortion clinics are currently designated to remain in operation.

Republicans and anti-abortion groups insisted their goal was to improve women’s health care, but also acknowledged wanting clinics to close.

“If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas, and many women could be forced to resort to dangerous and unsafe measures,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of the late former Texas governor Ann Richards.

The showdown came after Davis had slogged her way through about 11 hours of speaking while Senate Republicans – and several House members – watched and listened for any slipup that would allow them to end the filibuster and call a vote.

Democrats chose Davis, of Fort Worth, to lead the effort because of her background; she had her first child as a teenager and went on to graduate from Harvard Law School.

Rules stipulated she remain standing, not lean on her desk or take any breaks – even for meals or to use the bathroom. But she also was required to stay on topic, and Republicans pointed out a mistake and later protested again when another lawmaker helped her with a back brace.

Lawmakers can vote to end a filibuster after three sustained points of order. As tension mounted over Davis’ speech and the dwindling clock, Campbell, a first-term lawmaker from New Braunfels, made the call on the third violation, sparking nearly two hours of debate on how to handle it.

After much back and forth and senators shouting over each other, the Republican majority forced a vote to end the filibuster minutes before midnight, sparking the raucous response from protesters.

Senate security and several Department of Public Safety state troopers tried to quiet the crowd but were simply outnumbered and had no hope of stopping the outburst.

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, blamed the confusion surrounding the final vote on the demonstrators and Democratic senators who urged them on.

“Had that not happened, everyone would have known,” what was happening, Patrick said.

Standing next to him was Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, a Democrat.

“This is democracy,” Hinojosa said. “They have a right to speak.”

Protesters seek anti-gay marriage amendment in Puerto Rico

Hundreds of people marched through the capital of Puerto Rico to demand that the governor approve a constitutional amendment stating that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid.

The protesters walked on April 13 from the U.S. territory’s seaside Capitol building to the governor’s mansion in historic Old San Juan.

It is the second such march in the past three months. A similar march in February drew an estimated 200,000 people.

The protest comes as legislators are holding hearings on legislation that would outlaw discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation and extend a domestic violence law to gay couples.