Possession of a Camera-A Crime in the WI Assembly

By Whitney Steffen, Leslie Amsterdam and Arthur Kohl-Riggs

Above is a video of another unconstitutional arrest. However, this is more proof of the continued unprofessional behavior of the Capitol Police and Assembly Sergeant-at-Arms’ staff when it comes to rights, people’s property, and their safety.

Photo by Leslie Amsterdam

The Wisconsin State Assembly has its own set of rules. Assembly Rule 26, which covers the conduct in the chamber, is constantly broken on the floor. Members read newspapers. They eat. They use cell phones. There is also a claim that Rule 26 states that cameras and filming are not allowed in the gallery. This is  blatantly false, but the Assembly Sergeant-at-Arms’ staff and the Capitol Police choose to ignore that fact.

Last night, Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who runs a Facebook Page called ‘Shit Scott Walker is Doing to my State,’ was arrested for having a camera in the gallery.  He’s perhaps best known as the person who shot the video which caused Keith Olbermann to crown Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) The Worst Person in the World.

 

 

Photo by Whitney Steffen

Yesterday, they put black plastic bags on the glass of the swinging doors to block the view of the floor. The irony is probably lost on all of those who put those cheap garbage bags up, but it is Sunshine Week. Sunshine Week is “a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” (Source.)

When Arthur walked in with his camera on its mono-pod, the page asked him to leave. The camera was not turned on or filming. He refused to leave because there was no reason for him to go. The page called over Capitol Police Officer Bob Sloey. Sloey grabbed Arthur before asking him to exit the gallery.

Photo by Leslie Amsterdam

 

 

 

After a heated exchange in the hall in which Capitol Police Officer Jeff Calhoun joined in the conversation, Arthur stuffed the camera under his sweater because they told him to put it away. He had no bag to put it in and did not wish to leave it outside the gallery unattended. His camera now hidden, he reentered the gallery. He sat down, wishing to watch his government at work. The page and Capitol Police told him he was not allowed to return because he had been asked to leave once. When asked to leave again, he refused, just as he had the first time.

Soon, no fewer than four Capitol Police officers appeared. The sergeant on duty spoke with him, repeating the request which would deny him his rights. After saying he wouldn’t, Capitol Police Officer Geoffrey McLendon asked Arthur to stand up and leave. Otherwise, he would have to carry him. Arthur stood as McLendon guided him up. He stepped over the seats and was led out.

In the gallery, all of this was impossible to ignore. From the floor, it was easy to miss. Nicole Schulte, who was covering the session from the floor last night, wrote of the event,

“The existence of Mr. Kohl Riggs’ concealed camera in the gallery was in no way disruptive to the proceedings on the Assembly floor. His camera didn’t squawk, it didn’t get up and walk around, it wasn’t inebriated and it didn’t hold a sign. It did, in fact, maintain a high level of decorum.”

When they took Arthur out of the gallery, the cameras immediately turned on. The whole of the event was caught from multiple angles, one of which is included in the video. Some audio from the actual arrest surfaced as well. Note that there are two times the Capitol Police use force:  once at 5:35, where Arthur is shoved into a door frame as he tries to hear what the Capitol Police are saying to him, and the second time at just before 7:00 when they shove him into the elevator door because it didn’t come fast enough for their liking. He was also trying to call the City of Madison Police to help him.

And though there is a made-up rule that cameras are not allowed, Representative Robin Vos stated that they are – but there are limits on using them.

“Vos said he did not see a contradiction in allowing guns in the galleries while banning the use of cameras. He said people could bring both guns and cameras into the galleries, but couldn’t use either.” (Source.)

If you’d like to contact the Capitol Police about this story, here are some emails:

Charles Tubbs (Chief of Police):
Charles.Tubbs@wisconsin.gov

Jeff Calhoun:
Jeff.Calhoun@Wisconsin.gov

Bob Sloey:
robert.sloey@wisconsin.gov

Geoffrey McLendon:
geoffrey.mclendon@wisconsin.gov

Phone number for the Capitol police:

608-266-8797

Contact information for the members of the Assembly Rules Committee, who approve the rules for each session:

Representative Suder (Chair) – Rep.Suder@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 267-0280 or (888) 534-0069
Representative Fitzgerald (Vice-Chair) – Rep.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-2540
Representative Kramer – Rep.Kramer@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-8580
Representative Knodl – Rep.Knodl@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-3796 or (888) 529-0024
Representative Ballweg –  Rep.Ballweg@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-8077 or (888) 534-0041
Representative Murtha –  Rep.Murtha@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-7683
Representative Williams – Rep.WilliamsM@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-7506
Representative Barca – Rep.Barca@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-5504 or (888) 534-0064
Representative Pasch – Rep.Pasch@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-7671 or (888) 534-0022
Representative Clark – Rep.Clark@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-7746 or (888) 534-0042
Representative Bernard Schaber – Rep.BernardSchaber@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 282-3657
Representative Turner – Rep.Turner@legis.wisconsin.gov; (608) 266-0731 or (888) 529-0061

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20 Comments on “Possession of a Camera-A Crime in the WI Assembly”

  1. Chris March 15, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    Can you sue the individual officers for false detainment?

    • Yesman March 15, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      Kidnapping.

  2. Jim March 15, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was watching a movie about some country locked in a Nazi Police State. That was absurd….yet these “arrests” for no reason are happening with increasing frequency across the Nation, not just Wisconsin.

  3. sekonrub March 15, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    cops love to say: “stop fighting” – as they’re hurting someone not fighting.

    • Ray N March 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

      Yes, like the psychopath who murders you and while you lay dying, you overhear him say to you, “Look what you made me do!” Or the bully who has you on the ground with his boot on your neck as he shouts “Stop it, you’re hurting me!”
      Welcome to the United States of Corporate Fascism.
      “Fascism should more be appropriately called corporatism, as it the merger of the corporation and the state.” -Benito Mussolini

  4. Mike March 15, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    What the article fails to mention is what a hero Scott Walker is. That’s what is important here… The USSR tried communism people, it doesn’t work!

    Go get em Scotty!

    • John March 15, 2012 at 9:01 am #

      You are nothing but a shill. You are an origination Walker has employed to try to break up or discredit stories that come out that goes against his regime

      No decent human being has a single logical or moral reason against transparency of government or blocking the ability to photograph or document what they are doing.

      Go away. No one is listening.

      • Whitney March 15, 2012 at 9:22 am #

        Assuming you believe what you are saying, that you are, in fact, NOT a troll, and that you weren’t sent here by some Scott Walker group to stir up some shit, I suggest you take some time to learn the truth of the matter. Maybe come down to the Capitol once or twice instead of sitting behind your computer.

        Oh, wait. You don’t appear to be from Wisconsin. Carry on from your corner of the country, then.

    • Del March 15, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      Hero? Really? http://weeklyintercept.blogspot.com/2011/03/wisconsin-governor-scott-walker-gives.html Some hero, giving out 140 million in breaks that don’t work to companies and then complaining about the 137 million dollar deficit he just created. Do some research or STFU.

    • Ray N March 24, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

      What you fail to realize is Walker has a stick up your ass that you obviously can’t feel.

  5. James March 15, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Art – I went to High School with you and thought you were awesome there too. Keep up the work in Madison, and we can be rid of this fascist and his ridiculous policies.

    You are a hero for standing up to injustice.

  6. Wesley March 15, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    The reality of the story is something that is unknown however. Every post on this story by everyone above me assumes that what the media is reporting is a fact, when in 95% of the cases it isn’t. Not sure if anybody has realized this yet or not, but the media is about whatever makes their story look good whether its the hard facts or not. Maybe if people would learn to think for themselves and read between the lines the world would be a better place.

    • Whitney March 15, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      You compare this story to what the mainstream media calls “news”? In case you haven’t noticed, we’re not the mainstream media. I’m insulted.

    • Hematite March 20, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

      “The media” didn’t report on this story at all. Many of the people commenting here witnessed the event first hand.

    • Ray N March 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

      Did you not watch the damn video? It was a self report. Don’t believe your lying eyes, huh?

  7. Wesley March 15, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Ignorance really is bliss these days. Its a shame people are so naive.

    • Whitney March 15, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      It’s so cute that you’re calling us ignorant when you don’t seem to know the difference between it’s and its. If you don’t want to believe it, don’t. No one’s forcing you.

  8. John March 15, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Wisconsin is behind you Scott Walker! Democracy is the way!

    • Topher March 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

      No, the kock brothers are behind him all the way… Troll.

  9. Si vis pacem, para bellum March 15, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Si vis pacem, para bellum
    Si vis pacem, para bellum
    Si vis pacem, para bellum

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