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WI:Appleton Officers Violate Rights of Two Open Carriers on Tape

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Dean Weingarten, Sep 10, 2013.

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  1. Dean Weingarten

    Dean Weingarten Member

    Sep 15, 2012
    Open Carrier with slung rifle in Phoenix

    Last Saturday, the seventh of September, Charles and Ross were exercising their constitutional rights to bear arms under both the U.S. Constitution and the Wisconsin state Constitution. Neither had been involved in this sort of activism before, but from reading open carry forums had decided that carrying a video camera as well as their firearms, would be a prudent precaution.

    They did not expect trouble. Open carry has been well established in Wisconsin. Open carry has always been legal, and in 1998, after a long and difficult amendment process, Wisconsin citizens cemented this long standing right into the State Constitution with 74 percent of the votes cast in the referendum.

    Over the last 5 years, open carry has been tested in the courts. Several lawsuits have ended in settlements to open carriers including cases in Wisconsin. The State Attorney General issued an opinion that open carry did not constitute disorderly conduct, because police were abusing the disorderly conduct law in order to arrest open carriers.

    Considerable numbers of newspaper, broadcast, and Internet articles were devoted to the issue, which became one of statewide interest in the 2010 elections. After the elections, in 2011, the Wisconsin government clarified the law to insure that the Constitutional rights would be protected.

    Included in the reforms was a section that specifically excluded open carry as disorderly conduct, and provided for a $500 fine and or a month in jail for officials that used excessive force based solely on the persons status as a concealed weapon licensee.

    In spite of the statewide debate, several court settlements, the AG opinion, and the shall issue law with special provisions protecting open carry, the most charitable thing that can be said of some officers in Appleton, is that they were not paying attention.

    As Charles and Ross were walking down the street with slung rifles and holstered pistols, some of Appleton's finest approached them, pointed at least one loaded rifle at them, and demanded that they move up against a wall. Ironically, it is likely that the rifle pointed at them was an AR-15 clone. (about :35 seconds into the video)

    Note that at this point there is no reasonable suspicion of any law being broken. There is no probable cause. No gun (other than the officers) has been pointed at anyone. The audio and video recorder is running. Open carry has been specifically defined by law in Wisconsin as not being disorderly conduct.

    Charles and Ross cooperate with the police, though they have little choice with loaded guns pointed at them. They answer questions. They have, but do not require concealed carry permits, because they are not concealing any weapons.

    The officers handcuff them and place them in the back seat of one of the squad cars. One of the officers takes the video camera and turns off the video while allegedly attempting to erase the recording. This in itself is a violation of the open carriers First Amendment rights. The Seventh Circuit has ruled that you have a First Amendment Right to record police in the performance of their public duties.

    While the officer turned off the video recording, he did not find the right sequence to turn off the audio recording. The camera was then taken to another police car where the police discussed possible charges against the open carriers.

    It is clear that they do not like the idea of people carrying rifles openly, though why is not so clear. At about 6:52, one officer mentions that they have Charles and Ross' wallets and CCW permits, removing any doubt that they realize that Charles and Ross are not breaking any laws.

    It appears that there are at least four officers involved. At 12:28, one officer, who appears to be the one who impounded the camera, says, "This ain't going on on YouTube" making clear the intent to violate the First Amendment.

    At about 14:05 on the recording, the officers mention the Madison case, showing that they know about the settlement favorable to open carry reached in that case, which occurred even before the protections of open carry in act 35 went into effect.

    The officers consider checking the serial numbers on the firearms. They have no probable cause to do so, but one of them says its "Worth a try" (20:10).

    At 21:10, one officer mentions "Those are Sig Sauers" "Those are good firearms."

    At 34:30, an officer decides to run the CCW permits again, to see if they are still valid. Note that this is over half an hour after Charles and Ross were handcuffed without any reasonable suspicion or probable cause. It is clear that the officers are fishing for something to arrest them on, but they cannot find anything. There is no reason to run the permits, because Charles and Ross were not concealing any weapons.

    At about 41:00, the permits come back valid.

    At about 42:40, one of the officers says that they are all right to go.

    There are some apologies, and Charles and Ross are released after 45 minutes in detention, most of the time in handcuffs.

    How many of the Bill of Rights were violated in this incident?

    First Amendment: already covered, the police had no right to stop the video or impound the video camera. The intent to prevent publishing of the recording was itself recorded.

    Second Amendment: They had guns pointed at them, were handcuffed and held, and their other rights violated because they were exercising their Second Amendment rights. A clear desire to chill the exercise of those rights was expressed by the officers and recorded.

    Fourth Amendment: They were detained without reasonable suspicion of a crime, there was no probable cause to hold them, the serial numbers of their guns were entered into national databases without any probable cause to do so.

    Other cases where people had police point loaded guns at them without cause have resulted in settlements of $15,000 or more.

    Perhaps the Appleton P.D. will learn from others mistakes, settle quickly, and offer much needed remedial training for its officers as part of the settlement.

    Link to YouTube video, about 5 minutes

    Link to full audio recording, 46 minutes

    ©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.


    Several embeded links at the original article.
  2. Mainsail

    Mainsail Member

    Dec 16, 2005
    It might take a year or so, but those guys will have a few buck$ coming their way.
  3. we are not amused

    we are not amused Member

    Jul 24, 2011
    Smallvile, Kansas
    Rather scary that police are so contemptuous of the law, and the citizens they are supposed to serve, not intimidate!

    I hope they sue, and win big time!
  4. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

    Oct 20, 2011
    Wow that's crazy scary crazy
  5. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

    Apr 28, 2013
    Well done. Now sue 'em.

    Willie (50 miles south)

  6. Ryanxia

    Ryanxia Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    I hope they don't let this go. Whether they actually sue or not is their choice (and I hope they do) but I hope they use this to raise awareness. Sounds like that town needs an OC trash pickup day like they did in NH. :)
  7. armoredman

    armoredman Member

    Nov 19, 2003
    proud to be in AZ
    Sue for two things - monetary damages AND the termination of the involved officers. Tie them together, as people who KNOW they are violating the laws they are sworn to serve need to be booted out. Then file individual suit against the former officers, as publicly as possible, until LEOs understand that this conduct is not going to "chill" any rights, but will chill paychecks for quite some time.
  8. feedthehogs

    feedthehogs Member

    Jan 8, 2003
    with zero punishment coming, the cops have no incentive to obey the law. to them any settlement comes from an insurance policy paid for by the tax payers.

    if anyone was seriously interested in stopping these abuses, you hold the perpetrators responsible both criminally and financially. as long as there are blanket protections in place, this will not stop.
  9. wisconsin

    wisconsin Member

    Jan 5, 2011
    Being from the Oshkosh area (20 minutes south of Appleton) this suprises me. I open carried in the area many times and even had a few inquiries from local LEOs, none involving handcuffs. I really think the nail in the coffin for this was the rifles, given the way people have been seeing things lately.
    How hard would have it been to simply ask why they were carrying? Thats all the LEOs ever did to me, and honestly, thats expected. The only time I had any harassment was Madison... shocker...
    I hope these guys get something out of this, if I still lived up there I think it'd be time for an open carry picnic in Appleton...
  10. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

    Feb 6, 2007
    I too am from Wisconsin and find it hard to believe as much as OC has been publicized in the state, that any LEO would be that uninformed or ignorant. Still one has to wonder if the reason they had the video camera with them and recording was that they were hoping to have an incident to record. Either way, they were completely within their rights and the cops were wrong. There needs to be some disciplinary action shown. The violation of their 1st Amendment rights concerns me as much as the lack of respect for their 2nd Amendment rights.
  11. Queen_of_Thunder

    Queen_of_Thunder member

    Jul 28, 2012
    Where God purifies the soul. The West Texas desert
    "This ain't going on on YouTube"

    Just tell them its too late. The recording is already on a number of servers "live".
  12. SilentStalker

    SilentStalker Member

    Jan 3, 2006
    Somewhere in the U.S., London, or Australia
    So, at what point has it become illegal to carry a rifle around openly? As long as you are not brandishing it and waving it around how is it illegal? Has something changed in the last 40 years or so?
  13. Dean Weingarten

    Dean Weingarten Member

    Sep 15, 2012
    There are very few places where it is illegal. California recently passed a ban on long gun open carry/


    Texas law does not ban long gun open carry.

    What has happened is the anti-freedom statists in the MSM have pushed the idea that long gun open carry is unacceptable, and are tryng to leverage that into an actual ban on some long guns, especially those with magazines of more than 10 rounds.
  14. Sapper771

    Sapper771 Member

    Feb 24, 2007
    11 up and 3 down
    This is was one of my first thoughts.

    I see wrong on both sides of this situation.
  15. welldoya

    welldoya Member

    Mar 19, 2007
    I too see wrongs on both sides. They obviously had the camera hoping the cops would stop them and they got their wish.
    I don't care if open carry is legal or not, you should be selective in doing it.
    I don't care to see guys walking down a downtown street carrying rifles. There's no reason for it. I don't care if it's legal or not. I can certainly see why it would set off alarms in people's heads, cops or not.
    I mean come on, use your head. This is not helping the 2nd amendment cause.
  16. fanchisimo

    fanchisimo Member

    Jul 10, 2011
    Central Missouri
    Those men being prepared to record could either be them looking for an incident OR it could be them wanting proof, just in case. I don't know if the goal is to open carry for the sake of it, but it's their right. If I was to have to open carry in public where I'm at, I may not record full time, but I would certainly be ready to start the recorder on my phone, just in case.
  17. GEM

    GEM Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Heads up on TX. I always say this. Some cities (like San Antonio) have local ordinances against long arm open carry. This may not be state constitutional but hasn't been challenged to my knowledge. The law was designed to bust gang members with cheap SKS rifles when they flooded the market years ago.

    When I asked the SAPD info officer several years ago, he seemed to think that they will enforce it.

    Yes, you can probably beat it after taking the ride. Also, you never know when carrying a gun and talking to the law in a confrontational manner will go badly.

    Open carry of handguns is not legal except in certain circumstances. NOT Starbucks or the mall.
  18. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

    Aug 11, 2010
    Bet the cops have a dash camera in their cruiser...in this day and age...it seems like most people have some sort of recording device with them.
  19. orionengnr

    orionengnr Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    I don't care if free speech is legal or not...you should be selective in doing it.
    I don't care to see people walking down a downtown street protesting, carrying signs, etc. There's no reason for it.

    How ya like them apples? :rolleyes:

    Your Constitutional Rights either exist or they do not....and if we don't exercise them, they will not.
    Your feelings do not enter into it.
  20. oldcelt

    oldcelt Member

    Jan 11, 2012
    the bottom line is:These guys violated no laws so THERE WAS NO REASON FOR THEM TO BE TREATED LIKE CRIMMINAL SUPECTS
  21. larryh1108

    larryh1108 Member

    Aug 29, 2008
    Lawsuit against the city.
    Lawsuit against the PD.
    Push for dismissal against the offending officers.
    Lawsuit against the individual officers.

    Send notice that these types of acts will not be tolerated and there will
    be consequences. That's the only way to stop this type of harassment.

    For the record, I feel that doing these types of things in this day and age is
    not the smartest thing to do, although legal. If you do it just for the money because
    you want to sue some deep pockets then you are equally as wrong as the officers
    involved in their illegal acts. It does nothing to help our cause in the minds of the
    fence-sitters. The only thing gained is self-satisfaction and sometimes that undermines
    what is best for all of us. I see no other reason to do it other than you can. It seems
    like another attention-getting youtube wannabe to me.
  22. Dean Weingarten

    Dean Weingarten Member

    Sep 15, 2012
    If you do not use your rights you lose them. These guys did us all a favor. Just a few years ago, we heard all the same arguments against the open carry of pistols. Now most seem to think open carry of pistols is just fine. There are vanishingly small numbers of crimes committed with rifles compared to pistols. Even hands and feet, knives, and blunt instruments are used in crime far more than rifles are.

    So, why all the hoopla? Because rifles have been demonized by the anti-Second Amendment types in a full out campaign in the old media.

    The effect of this exposure of the police conspiring to nullify these guys Constitutional rights is pretty chilling. Their loyalty to each other seems to completely override their oath of office.

    The punishment, when it comes, will make all Wisconsin officers sit up and take notice. Once pro-Second Amendment activists see that their rights are protected instead of under attack, they will not need to exercise them as much.
  23. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

    Sep 15, 2007
    S.E. Minnesota
    This surprises you? Where have you been for the past 10 years or so?
  24. jdub3

    jdub3 Member

    Jun 21, 2009
    The camera is there for protection against abuses, such as those that occurred. Saying that they went out looking for trouble because they had a camera makes as much sense as saying they were looking for trouble because they were carrying guns.

    Fault on both sides, because they chose to exercise their constitutional rights?
  25. Dean Weingarten

    Dean Weingarten Member

    Sep 15, 2012
    If the camera had not been there, we would never have head the police conspiring to deprive these men of their rights.

    They would have gotten away with their conspiracy, and would have been able to hide behind the "blue wall of silence."

    Good thing they had the camera. Transparancy is betginning to work both ways.
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