Friday, June 30, 2006

Ben Masel: Senate candidate, or public enemy #1?

The UW-Madison Police don't seem to know the difference.

Is this what we mean by "the new urbanism"? Just wondering. We seem to be on a slippery slope. One day the mayor's office is floating a trial balloon about unconstitutionally fencing off State Street the night of the big Halloween bash. Next we start roughing up U. S. Senate candidates. What's next?

I've put this update about their ridiculous macing and arrest of Ben Masel at the Union Terrace last night at my original post about his U.S. Senate run against Herb Kohl.

What is it about the First Amendment that UW-Madison Police don't understand?

Masel was put on the ground, maced and arrested at a public hip hop concert last night on the Memorial Union Terrace, where he was circulating his nomination papers. -- and where other local politicians have done so with no problem. There's an interesting discussion of the event at The Daily Page Forum, starting with Masel's account of the incident.
Asked to show ID, I inquire whether they are there as Agents of the State, or "are you working for a Private Club?" I'm grabbed, maced, put to the ground, and with at least one knee on my back, the rest of the mace emptied into my eyes.

Trip to UW stationhouse, charges of Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, and Resisting/Obstructing an Officer. Released on recognizance, return date July 24.

Coincidentally, Mayor Dave was playing cards with pals at a table 8 feet away. He'll make an interesting witness.
That should be quite a court appearance -- especially if Masel succeeds in dragging Mayor Dave to the witness stand. Masel has quite a track record of coming out on top in false arrest cases, and I'm sure he'll do so again. But you do have to wonder what the hell is going on in downtown Madison -- especially with the selective nature of this "law enforcement" action.

I remember when Michael Moore was speaking at the Union Terrace in front of thousands on a cold, blustery night before the 2004 election. There was a group of wingnuts trying to disrupt his talk. They were standing in the very spot where Masel was arrested, but nobody that I could see called the cops. Somebody dumped a pitcher of beer on the hecklers, which seemed to shut them up, but that was a different matter...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1. On the night Moore was at the Union the protesters were dispersed by police and union staff (when asked to leave some did)

2. Masel was asked to stop twice by union employees. It was explained that if he did not stop he was in violation of the Union code and would give up his right to be there.

3. Has anyone heard the cop's side of the story? From what I voerheard it wasn't a question of 'can we see your ID' that got things started but a request to speak in the parking lot, away from the noise. So where is this is his account?