A complaint has been filed with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office after a deputy got a little worked up about a protest last week. According to the Journal-Sentinel, the protest was part of an ongoing dispute between workers and owners of Palermo’s pizza. The workers have been striking over the last ten months, on weekends.
In the past, workers say, cops would come and ask them a few questions and leave them to their protest with no hassles. But last Friday, it was a deputy of the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Department who showed up.
The protestors use lights to post messages about their goals, and refer to themselves as the Overpass Light Brigade. Deputy Sheriff Van Callies reportedly “stormed” onto the bridge and “demanded” the lights be turned off and taken down.
He told the protestors that they would all be arrested for disorderly conduct.
Having dealt with city police at their protests before, the strikers thought Van Callies’ behavior to be a bit extreme, ad many reportedly became frightened, laying down their lights and moving away.
Rosemarie Molina, from the United Steel Workers Union in California and leading the effort to boycott Palermo’s said that in her training, she was taught to record situations like these when they started to go down. So, that’s exactly what she did—pulling out her cell phone and pressing record.
But, the deputy spotted her, “Without any communication or warning from him, he comes toward me, snatches the phone, twisting my fingers, and takes my phone,” said Molina.
Another woman at the scene also had her phone taken.
It was about this time that the city police showed up, told the protestors there had been a misunderstanding, and everything went back to normal.
Molina, however, has filed a complaint, alleging that her phone was taken illegally, that the deputy made unnecessary contact, and that he hurt and harassed her. The Sheriff’s office said they are investigating the incident.
Disorderly conduct charges are frequently the result of officer frustration. The broad nature of disorderly conduct laws makes them applicable in a variety of situations. Because of this, officers can pick and choose when they want to enforce the law.
If you’ve been accused of disorderly conduct, you could be facing jail time for exercising your right to protest and peacefully assemble. Get a legal consultation if you are accused of protesting illegally, or any criminal charge.