From Wisconsin Carry:
On Saturday September 18th, Wisconsin Carry received a call to our hotline about an incident in progress at a Culvers Restaurant in Madison, WI. 5 of our members who had met at previous WCI events and on the opencarry.org discussion forum planned to get together for dinner at Culvers Restaurant near East Towne in Madison, WI. They were, of course, open-carrying as they do every day. Based on information gathered over the past several days here are the facts of the case . . .
Our members had finished dinner and were outside preparing to leave when 8 Madison Police officers arrived and began to demand ID. Officers told the members that if they did not produce ID they would be arrested.
2 of the 5 declined to provide ID. Wisconsin law does NOT allow officers to demand ID from individuals who have done nothing wrong. Wisconsin law also specifically does not allow officers to arrest an individual who has done nothing wrong for merely refusing to show ID.
2 of our members were subsequently arrested and charged with obstructing.
It was later learned that a 62 year old woman in the restaurant had called 911 and inquired as to whether it was legal for people to openly carry firearms. The caller indicated there was no disturbance but she was “worried”. Madison Police responded, not by informing the caller that open-carry is legal, but rather sending 8 officers to respond to a peaceful situation.
It is a person’s choice whether or not they wish to provide the police their ID when they have done nothing wrong. Without knowing the motivation of officers who are aggressively demanding ID and threatening arrest, its understandable why a person who has done nothing wrong would want to maintain their privacy. Its IMPERATIVE that police follow the law. Police are not allowed to arrest you for merely failing to provide ID. If the police can operate outside of the law, it does us NO good to vote and elect legislators to represent us and pass laws if the police will make-up and enforce whatever they feel like enforcing.
Wisconsin Carry fully expected that on Monday morning, those with an education in the law would return to their office from the weekend and promptly recognize the error made by the officers on the scene.
Madison Police DID recognize their error and rescinded the tickets for obstruction that were issued to 2 of our members. Madison Police admit in a press release those tickets were given in error. Madison Police then issued Disorderly Conduct citations to ALL 5 of our members. According to Madison Police, if ONE person is ‘worried’, even though there is no disturbance, your constitutional rights mean nothing. Wisconsin’s Attorney General CLEARLY stated in a memo in April of 2009 that open-carry IS NOT disorderly conduct.
Madison Police then continued their disregard for Wisconsin residents constitutional rights by issuing a statement indicating that Madison police will: Approach anyone who is open-carrying using “the proper tactical response. The individual should be contacted, controlled, and frisked for weapons if appropriate. Officers should separate the suspect from any weapons in his/her possession during the encounter.”
[Click here for the press release]
As such, Wisconsin Carry will be fast-tracking a federal lawsuit against the Madison Police Department for this policy which is a blatant and defenseless violation of the rights of law-abiding citizens who are doing nothing wrong.
Wisconsin Carry will also, if needed, retain an attorney to challenge the Disorderly Conduct citations issued to 5 of our members.
Wisconsin Carry feels this is a fundamental issue, and a situation that has implications for every resident in the state of Wisconsin. Police Departments all across the state have received the AG memo and responded accordingly training officers in the appropriate and lawful response to a law-abiding citizen open-carrying. Madison MUST be held to the same standard. Wisconsin law apply’s to everyone in the state, not just those outside of Madison. Its imperative that the Madison Police Department follow the law. Very soon, we expect Wisconsinites to have the ability to legally conceal carry. If police do not respect the legal right to open-carry we already have, how can we expect them to respect the right to conceal carry that we all seek as well?
This incident has received a huge amount of attention from the media. Its possible it may even garner national attention in the near future.
Many discussions regarding the incident, and links to media coverage of the incident are taking place on the discussion forums at opencarry.org: http://forum.opencarry.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?133-Wisconsin
You may also follow this and other Wisconsin Carry activities by joining Wisconsin Carry’s facebook group: Search “Wisconsin Carry, Inc” or “Wisconsin Carry” on facebook.
If you haven’t already done so, we also invite you to officially join Wisconsin Carry from out website as well. Membership is $15 for the first year.
Follow the link below to hear 911 tape: http://www.examiner.com/gun-rights-in-washington-dc/madison-five-911-caller-told-police-there-s-no-problem
Includes full 911 call audio obtained pursuant to Wisconsin Open Records Act.
Nik Clark Chairman – Wisconsin Carry, Inc.
P.O. Box 270403
Milwaukee, WI 53227