Arthur Kohl-Riggs, the Wisconsin activist who had already been arrested twice for camera-related incidents inside the State Capitol, was arrested again Tuesday night for the mere possession of a camera.
He was charged with disorderly conduct and had his camera confiscated as evidence.
The incident is the latest in a long string of incidents inside the Capitol dating back to February 2011 when republican governor Scott Walker took office, sparking of a series of protests, sit-ins and recall efforts against him.
Although there is no state law banning cameras from inside the Capitol, the Assembly rules allow cameras – and guns – inside the Assembly Room as long as they are not used.
But Kohl-Riggs said he was not using his camera, only holding it when he was surrounded by a group of Capitol police officers and escorted out of the Assembly Room.
He also happened to audio record the interaction with another device he was carrying, which he included in the above video along with footage recorded by others
According to the Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-Op:
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.
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.
Kohl-Riggs’ initial interaction with authorities was captured on camera by Leslie Amsterdam, a credentialed journalist who is allowed to record inside the Assembly Room.
And his arrest was picked up on camera by several other activists once outside the Assembly Room.
Like his previous arrests, he was handcuffed, taken to the basement, booked and released on his own recognizance.
“They confiscated my camera as evidence as proof that I had it in the gallery,” he said Wednesday afternoon in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
They told him they would return it to him after his trial, which is scheduled to begin on March 23.
His previous disorderly conduct charges related to cameras in the Assembly Room were dismissed and it shouldn’t be any different this time around.
Last October, republican State Representative Robin Vos confirmed that both guns and cameras were allowed inside the Assembly Room, but neither could be used.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
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.
“You can have a gun in the gallery, but you can’t shoot,” he said.
Kohl-Riggs, who runs the Facebook page Shit Scott Walker is Doing to My State, would like to file a lawsuit but hasn’t spoken to any lawyers yet.