Oshkosh Police Department officers arrested the 26-year-old Appleton man after he decided to give an officer more cowbell after the officer requested the group of Recall Walker demonstrators gathered in the 1800 block of Oshkosh Avenue Thursday afternoon stay quiet and avoid blocking a restaurant’s driveway.
OPD spokesman Officer Joe Nichols said officers responded after restaurant customers called to complain the demonstrators had blocked access to the driveway about 4:20 p.m. Thursday.
The man continued to shake the cowbell in the officer’s face in spite of his requests to not make excessive noise.
When the officer attempted to take the cowbell, the Appleton man pushed the officer twice.
Nichols said the officer “directed” the man to the ground and requested assistance.
As he attempted to handcuff the man, a 25-year-old Appleton woman hit the officer in the back with her picket sign.
Both were arrested and taken to the Winnebago County Jail.
Nichols said OPD recommended the man be charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and that the woman be charged with disorderly conduct and battery to a police officer, a Class H felony.
Nichols said the rest of the demonstrators complied with officers’ requests.
“The rest of the protesters were told to keep the noise down and they did,” he said. “The officer understood they have a right to be out on the sidewalk and picket, but they can’t block driveways or sidewalks and can’t create excessive noise.”
This is far from the first politics-related incident Oshkosh officers have responded to since the signature drive to recall Walker kicked off in mid-November.
Nichols said officers have responded to 39 incidents related to recall petitions, damaged political signs and stolen signs since Jan. 1, 2011, and 29 of those have been since November when the recall drive began.
A signature collector caught one incident on video in which a man threatened that the signature gatherer would be killed if he continued to gather signatures in front of South Park Middle School in late December.
Officers cited the man, Carl Sosnoski, with a municipal citation for disorderly conduct.
Nichols said OPD expects similar incidents will continue to come up and asked people on both ends of the political spectrum to show some respect.
“We’re going to get these kinds of calls until the recall election occurs,” he said. “People have a right to go out. They have a right to demonstrate. But with rights come responsibilities. They have to be responsible for all their actions. Don’t block sidewalks if someone’s trying to get by. And don’t make excessive noise.”
Jeff Bollier writes for the Oshkosh Northwestern.