The police in Wisconsin seem to have forgotten exactly what their job is and have decided to act as criminal thugs instead. Article 1 Section 25 of the Wisconsin Constitution states the following,
"The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose."
Amazingly enough, one of the men arrested in this incident was Frank Hannan-Rock. You may remember he was arrested for the "crime" of open carrying on his own property. He sued and was awarded a $10K settlement against the arresting officers and the city of Racine. I hope he and his fellow OC'ers sue in this incident as well, as they are already pledging to do.
Audio of the 911 call has been released and yet law enforcement still seems intent on making something stick because a few WI citizens had the gall to exercise their rights. They are now dropping the obstruction charges in exchange for disorderly conduct charges, as if that will make the civil rights violations committed by the responding officers somehow "acceptable."
Given the events that transpired and the 911 call, the arrogance and stupidity being displayed by the Madison police is unbelievable. They need to be put in their place, preferrably with civil rights lawsuits against both the department and each of the responding officers.
The 911 caller describes the men numerous times as being "extremely relaxed" and not threatening anyone. It was also clear that the caller didn't feel disturbed or threatened by the men. In fact, once she's been informed of the legality of OC and told the police are responding she apologizes for causing a problem for the OC'ers. Based upon the 911 call no officers should have been sent to the scene at all, as it was obvious to both caller and dispatcher that no laws had been broken.
As I've pointed out before on this blog, open carry absent other aggrivating behavior does not constitute "disoderly conduct. This was not disorderly conduct. Imagine a group of 5 black or hispanic men in oversized white t-shirts and baggy jeans sit down and have lunch at a restaurant in a predominantly white neighborhood. Someone calls the police because seeing minorities dressed in such attire is "unusual." Are they guilty of disorderly conduct? If not then neither are a couple guys OC'ing in public.
The obstruction charges being trumped up by the Madison police here are a complete fabrication as well. Citizens are under no obligation to produce ID upon demand by a law enforcement officer. How can I be cited for "obstruction" for failure to show ID when I'm not even required to carry said ID on my person? They have just as much right to decline to show ID as they do to carry their sidearms.
Frankly, I can't fault Hannan-Rock for telling the cops to get bent. Sebastian notes that the situation might have gone better if they'd just shown ID. That may be true, but the cops initiated this incident, not the OC'ers. The only people who broke any laws that day were the responding Madison officers.
If all that is needed for a disorderly conduct citation is that the behavior in question be considered "unusual" and "alarming / disturbing" by the offended party imagine all of the possible lawful actions that could fall under that umbrella. A woman mowing her lawn in a bathing suit. An interracial couple holding hands or kissing in public. A librarian with a prostesis going to the grocery store in shorts. A college student limping around campus in a huge walking cast. Hell maybe we could even cite someone for putting beans in their chili in Texas?
The Wisconsin Attorney General made it clear in this memo from April 2009 that OC is legal and is not disorderly conduct. You would think that law enforcement in the state would have taken notice of that sometime in the past year and a half.
Despite what the media might say, there is no confusion on this issue. It is legal, regardless of the ignorance and / or arrogance displayed by individual officers in Madison. I hope this teaches them a lesson but I'm not holding my breath. The cynic in me says we'll see retaliation tactics from the police as a result of this.
If 5 Madison police officers walk into a restaurant can I call the cops and have those officers arrested for "disorderly conduct?"