By Ryan Ekvall | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — Like a broken record, the same offenders keep coming around for more citations at the Wisconsin Capitol.
While protesters and groups have complained about new Capitol Police Chief Dave Erwin’s crackdown on disturbances and other violations at the statehouse, a Wisconsin Reporter review of records shows the list of offenders is relatively small and repetitious.
Capitol police, as of Sept. 14, had issued 20 citations since Erwin took the helm in late July. Three people account for nine of those citations.
Before Erwin took over, 34 citations had been issued since Jan. 1, 2012. Capitol police issued 180 citations in 2011, many of those in the heat of the winter protests, which drew tens of thousands of demonstrators.
Here’s a look at the top five repeat offenders.
1. Jeremy Ryan — Ryan, commonly referred to as Segway Jeremy or Segway Boy, because he’s usually seen on a Segway, leads the pack in Capitol citations, with a total of 17 in 2011 and 2012. His offenses include disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly and sound amplification without a permit.
In July, Ryan repeatedly harassed Gwyn Guenther, reporter and daughter of the deceased longtime Capitol reporter Dick Wheeler, the founder of the Wheeler Report, a popular Capitol news service. Guenther has since moved her office from the Capitol.
Here’s a link to video of the incident where Ryan stands in front of the Dick Wheeler Capitol Press room, home of the Capitol press corps, singing, “Wheeler’s dead, didn’t call the cops. But she’s a sissy and feels she has to.”
Later in the video, Ryan explains he “didn’t say anything bad about him (Dick Wheeler)” and tells Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Jason Stein to “learn the First Amendment.”
While some may abhor what they see as juvenile tactics, others, such as protesters at a recent Madison Teachers Inc. rally outside the statehouse, thank Ryan for his personal sacrifice in the name of free speech.
“Jeremy was there every day yelling at us,” Guenther told Wisconsin Reporter. “(The police) turned over their report and it’s in the hands of the district attorney at this point … . There were other people on a daily basis harassing other members of the media and myself. It came to the point where I just want to do my job, and that meant me moving and doing my job somewhere else.”
2. Jason Huberty — Huberty trails Ryan by just one citation at the Capitol, with 16 since the beginning of 2011. Huberty has made a late charge for the top spot with eight citations in 2012 alone. Most of Huberty’s citations came before Erwin filled the chief post, vacated by Charles Tubbs.
In this video from January 2012, he displays eight laminated citations, which he calls “certificates of achievement for citizenship.” He says he earned his personal accolade for holding signs.
Huberty regularly joins the Solidarity Singers, a loose group of protesters, for their noon crooning. He testified before the Joint Finance Committee on last legislative session’s mining bill.
3. William Gruber — Gruber takes a more aggressive approach to peaceful protest. Apparently not inclined to singing, Gruber, instead, yells vulgarities at anyone within earshot.
Gruber, reportedly homeless and part of the Occupy Madison camp, was tasered and taken into custody in August by police for disrupting the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra at Concerts on the Square by yelling about Nazis and Gov. Scott Walker. Seven of Gruber’s eight Capitol arrests were made in 2011. He was cited the first week of September for holding a sign.
Gruber is not alone in the protest movement in screaming vulgarities around the statehouse. Another man, known as “Wild Bill” to solidarity singers, repeatedly yelled “homosexual child porn” to a group of 50 or so school children visiting the Capitol the day before the June gubernatorial recall election.
4. Chris Terrell — Terrell seems to have moved on from his days of protest at the Wisconsin Capitol. Arrested six times in the Capitol in 2011, Terrell received just one citation in January 2012. In 2011, Terrell protested with Arthur Kohl-Riggs (who unsuccessfully ran for governor in the Republican recall primary), Jeremy Ryan, Miles Kristan, Damon Terrell and Thi Le. Various videos of these protests are archived on Kohl-Riggs’ Youtube page.
5. Barton Munger — A number of other protesters tied Munger with six citations over the past two years. While most others received citations in 2011, Munger has five in 2012, including three since Erwin started as police chief.
Contact Ryan Ekvall at firstname.lastname@example.org.