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Saturday, March 29, 2003
Photographer Mauled In Wisconsin Courthouse
From: Suzanne Shell email@example.com
To: Stanley Scoop firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Suzanne Shell arrested in Wisconsin!
Date sent: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 07:23:08 -0700
I can't express how much I appreciate Slade's taking the initiative to
notify his list so soon after I was arrested. Poor Kay was so upset when
she saw me arrested - I could see the terror in her eyes, but she was a
trooper and started making phone calls immediately.
Here's the brief scoop - I've finally been able to take some pain pills
and they should be kicking in real soon.
I had obtained permission to do some 'background' filming from my
documentary video series in the Walworth County Courthouse. I was
reassured that there would be no problems with my using the camera.
As best as we are able to figure out, the DA who prosecuted Kay pitched a
small hissy and complained that I was video taping people in the
courthouse, especially him. I was not accosting anyone and nobody asked me
not to film them.
So the stalwart deputy approached me and informed me that I was not
allowed to video tape people, so I 'had two choices.' I could get
permission of everyone I had videoed or he would confiscate the tape. I
said "I don't think so" and insisted I was not going to give him my tape.
He then told me this was a security issue and I was not allowed to video
people. I replied that this was a public building and there is no
expectation of privacy in public areas. He insisted there is and that he
could confiscate my camera. I responded something to the effect "And I
could sue you if you do."
He then gave me two choices again, to either give him the tape or to
leave. I said, "Ok, I'll leave." I stood up and pointed the camera at him
and asked him his name as I was preparing to leave. He lunged for the
camera and I held onto it and shielded it against my body. He then grabbed
me, slammed my face against the cinderblock wall and twisted my right arm
behind my back. I began repeating that the tape was now evidence and it
had better not disappear or be altered. He called for assistance, a
strange thing since I am a grandmother of 4, disabled and was NOT putting
up a fight. He handcuffed me while Kay snagged another deputy who served
as a witness who protected her from arrest and tried to help her identify
the deputy who gave us permission to video tape in the courthouse. This
deputy saved Kay from being arrested.
I was taken to a holding cell and threatened with being sent to the
Walworth County Jail. I was held for about an hour and released after
being cited for obstructing an officer. I did get my video camera and tape
returned in good condition and unaltered.
I refused to relinquish my video because it is MY property and was not
used in the commission of a crime. The deputy's demand was ILLEGAL. I do
not have to obey illegal demands. BUT he only went ballistic when I asked
his name! I needed it for the First Amendment freedom of the press lawsuit
I intended to file.
About an hour after my release, I began to experience back pain. I have a
pinched nerve between my shoulder blades as a direct result of the force
used by the deputy in arresting me.
For the record, I followed my own advice. . .the video camera was running
the entire time until the second deputy unplugged it from the wall.
I will be filing a complaint but not tomorrow - I have to get to Sheboygan
for the seminar and won't have time. Anyone who wants to keep the pressure
on until I file the complaint is free to do so. All complaints should be
directed to the sheriff. I also suggest calling/writing the Janesville
Gazette. They were very prompt to come out and interview us about this
incident. We have also been considering calling the Milwaukee television
stations about this attack against the media.
Postings and links on this incident are archived at
I'm glad the day is over and I'm personally exhausted...and I didn't even
go to jail this time! I was shocked at the brutality of the officer right
in public. This is stuff you only see on TV, not in real life and
certainly not in broad daylight in a public place, right? Welcome to
Walworth County, Wisconsin! The officer yelled at me several times for no
reason and basically acted like an ass. I'm glad it's all on the video.
Suzanne was calm the whole time and didn't provoke anything. I was the one
terrified and shaking! After Suzanne was released from the jail, we went
about our taping plans for the day and got an excellent interview with
John Roberts, another resident of Walworth County who was abused by the
system out here. We're looking forward to the seminar tomorrow. Thank you
all for your support.
For more information on
The Wisconsin Gulag Of Walworth County
see previous reports in this blog
posted by Vetzine