July 12, 2011

Why did Madison police arrest a man for yelling about the badness of the Art Fair on the Square art?

After all the yelling that has gone on around the Wisconsin Capitol this year, I can't believe a man got arrested for loudly criticizing art! And our rag of a local paper, the Capitol Times, presents the story as if it's funny, as if the man — a homeless man — is some sort of clown and as if he had no right to express his opinions in public:
William Zamie, 62, no permanent address, was arrested on two counts of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at about 3:12 p.m. Sunday on North Carroll Street on Capitol Square, Madison police said.
According to a police news release, a jewelry maker from Florida flagged down a police officer Sunday afternoon because Zamie was yelling derogatory remarks to potential customers after he had slept most of the day on the bench behind the jewelry maker's display.

"He said the artist 'was not selling real art' and the handmade jewelry was really 'mass-produced junk,'" said police spokesman Joel DeSpain.

The critic then entered the artist's tent to continue his harangue.

"He told a customer 'all these artists steal from each other and what you are buying isn't real art,'" DeSpain said.
Zamie's free speech rights do not depend on whether he was speaking the truth, but from what I saw at the art fair, he was.

47 comments:

Chip S. said...

Wait..., what? Disorderly conduct is illegal in Madison?

David said...

If he blamed all the bad art on Walker, he would be ok.

Carol_Herman said...

Isn't it an act of kindness to arrest a homeless person? They'll get a bed. And, a meal. At least.

But what do they do with his shopping cart? /s

Now that the sarcasm button is off ... I'll bet they arrested the homeless person because he terrified someone just by being there? And, the cops don't want to be reported as not keeping the streets of Madison safe enough from homeless people?

Plus, cops get to do paperwork. Which is better, all around, then when their handing pedestrians tickets for jay walking.

Cops are measured by the statistics the station house keeps.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Clearly, the police felt it was time for this man to EAT HIS PEAS.

wv - ecteclog

Curious George said...

WI Statute 947.01: Disorderly Conduct. Whoever, In A Public Or Private Place, Engages In Violent, Abusive, Indecent, Profane, Boisterous, Unreasonably Loud, Or Otherwise Disorderly Conduct Under Circumstances In Which The Conduct Tends To Cause Or Provoke A Disturbance Is Guilty Of A Class B Misdemeanor.

So what's your beef Prof? This isn't a freedom of speech issue. Especially when this happens:

"The critic then entered the artist's tent to continue his harangue."

The bum had no interest other than being a pain in the ass.

Carol_Herman said...

CALDER used to make and sell jewelry. Artists families got to eat.

And, this jeweler from Florida brings his wares to Madison. At his own cost. So, you bet, you don't need a homeless person ENTERING YOUR TENT!

Ever hear that storekeepers can throw you out?

Even Professor Feinberg should'a and could'a been thrown out of the Bistro Bis. Because you don't go over and accost other customers!

Oh, and you DON'T go into the bathroom and accost Michele Bachmann, when she goes into a bathroom "to do business."

I'd have arrested them all. And, I'd have seen to it that they were fined for trespassing.

ndspinelli said...

I'm not very tolerant of aggressive street people. I've seen an increase of in your face shit from them in Madison recently. We're not in SF territory yet but trending that way. However, I did a quick CCAP check and this guy does not have a record, so presumably he's not a chronic problem. If a person walked into my uncle's restaurant and went on a rant I can assure you the cops wouldn't have been needed! I guess I would need more details but I tend to side w/ the business. And, I'm certainly no fan of the Cap Times.

Real Debate said...

I blame Scott Walker

Curious George said...

AA: " And our rag of a local paper, the Capitol Times, presents the story as if it's funny, as if the man — a homeless man — is some sort of clown and as if he had no right to express his opinions in public:"

How the hell do you come to that opinion? Is this garage mahal in blond wig?

Fred4Pres said...

Are you sure that wasn't Newt Gingrich? You better do a DNA swab and a fingerprint check.

nevadabob said...

I keep telling you that the Madison police department is staffed by a bunch of fucking corrupt union thugs operating extra-legally.

But you won't believe me.

Why don't you offer pro bono legal services to this man? (Or otherwise arrange them)?

This ... is something worth donating for.

Ann Althouse said...

""The critic then entered the artist's tent to continue his harangue."

This is the public square, not a private store, and he was not arrested for trespassing.

Why was this man singled out for haranguing people in public? If this is a crime, I've been personally victimized by this crime 100 times in the past year, often in full view of the cops.

David said...

The real crime here is sassin' an officer, which is a crime for a homeless man but not for a college student or middle class protester.

The responding officer gave Zamie a chance to leave, but he apparently didn't take advantage of the opportunity.

"He told the officer 'OK, grandpa, I'll get on my way 'cuz I don't want you getting all excited and having a heart attack,'" DeSpain said.

Zamie went back to the bench and slowly started putting his belongings into a sack, but kept on jawing with the officer, making it clear he didn't intend to leave.

"The officer grasped his wrist, and he started thrashing, kicking and shouting 'Police! Riot!,'" DeSpain said.

Other police officers dealing with an apparent drug overdose nearby responded to the shouting, and helped take Zamie off the Square and on to jail.


Do you expect Madison liberals to rise in protest of the treatment of Mr. Zamie?

Neither do I.

Peter said...

I've always been amused at the amount of MiCC** sold at "craft" fairs.

Nonetheless, I don't see how his actions are protected as 'free speech.' Truth may be a defense against an accusaton of libel, but I doubt it gives one the right to remain in a vendor's tent/booth after being asked to leave.

** Made in China Crap

Pogo said...

He was just pissed because Susan Feinberg gave him some cheap bottle of wine.

edutcher said...

And here I though this was the sort of thing SEIU fought and died for.

traditionalguy said...

Money talks and homelessness walks...a perp walk.

Ann Althouse said...

ndspinelli said... "I'm not very tolerant of aggressive street people."

He shouldn't be subjected to different law than the protesters complaining about Scott Walker. That would be viewpoint discrimination. And he doesn't get different treatment because of his apparent characteristic of being a "street person."

"I've seen an increase of in your face shit from them in Madison recently."

Why he in somebody's face in some different way that other people have been over the past year? Or was he just hurting the business of the artist who didn't want the stuff she was selling criticized. Scott Walker probably didn't like having the stuff he was selling criticized, but 1000s of people shouted about it wildly for weeks on end. Why weren't they arrested?

"If a person walked into my uncle's restaurant and went on a rant I can assure you the cops wouldn't have been needed!"

The artist was selling her wares on the sidewalk of the most important free speech forum in the state. It's not your uncle's restaurant.

If you want to control the environment, rent a storefront. If you want to ply your wares on the street, deal with the free speech of the street.

Did the man do something more? The Cap Times does not say so. They seem to think he's a marginal character who can be dragged into custody because he's expressing unpleasant ideas (which were probably true!).

Pogo said...

@Althouse: "If this is a crime, I've been personally victimized by this crime 100 times in the past year, often in full view of the cops."

This man was singled out for haranguing people in public because he's a lunatic.

The protesters are also lunatics, but he's on their side, so it passes. If GOP demonstrations got that rowdy, they'd be cellmates with the homeless dude.

ndspinelli said...

Sounds like the professor is doing business walking on the street. "Hey, honey..want a date?"

I have a friend who was a KC cop. She worked undercover vice and has some great stories. She really got into the garb and makeup.

Hockey Bum said...

The underlying charge is "disorderly conduct". Curious George has reproduced the relevant statutory language, above, which as with most disorderly conduct laws appears to be vague and content-based.

The problem is that many lower court judges will find people guilty of disorderly conduct if they know the defendant doesn't have the resources to mount an effective appeal.

I knew one judge whose standard was "would you use that language in front of your mother?" He'd then make the defendant post an appeal bond.

galdosiana said...

THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!!!!!!!!

Fred4Pres said...

I would double check on my theory that homeless guy was Newt Gingrich.

ndspinelli said...

Well gee professor, the protestors were engaging in political speech..the holy grail of free speech. This guy was being an art[or lack thereof] critic. Your disdain for the art fair and the Cap Times is in the record and duly noted. Maybe you can represent Mr. Zamie although no charges have yet been filed. That doesn't preclude you filing a civil complaint on his behalf.

timmaguire42 said...

the Capitol Times, presents the story as if it's funny, as if the man — a homeless man — is some sort of clown

"The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest."
Henry David Thoreau

The capital protestors weren't interfering with anyone's right to make money, this guy was. It's all about the money.

mariner said...

He wasn't a teacher and thus a fellow union member, so cops felt justified in arresting him.

Anne B. said...

You sure it wasn't Ignatius J. Reilly? :-)

He'd be about the right age ...

Chuck66 said...

If he would have brought his drum with him, it would have been okay.

Seriously though...as much as I hate race baiters, they do have a point. Middle and upper class white folk can get away with a lot of stuff poor persons of color can't. And this man-who-is- between-homes can't do the same things that the screamers in the capital did this spring.

Curious George said...

Ann Althouse said...
ndspinelli said... "I'm not very tolerant of aggressive street people."

He shouldn't be subjected to different law than the protesters complaining about Scott Walker. That would be viewpoint discrimination. And he doesn't get different treatment because of his apparent characteristic of being a "street person."

"I've seen an increase of in your face shit from them in Madison recently."

Why he in somebody's face in some different way that other people have been over the past year? Or was he just hurting the business of the artist who didn't want the stuff she was selling criticized. Scott Walker probably didn't like having the stuff he was selling criticized, but 1000s of people shouted about it wildly for weeks on end. Why weren't they arrested?

"If a person walked into my uncle's restaurant and went on a rant I can assure you the cops wouldn't have been needed!"

The artist was selling her wares on the sidewalk of the most important free speech forum in the state. It's not your uncle's restaurant.

If you want to control the environment, rent a storefront. If you want to ply your wares on the street, deal with the free speech of the street.

Did the man do something more? The Cap Times does not say so. They seem to think he's a marginal character who can be dragged into custody because he's expressing unpleasant ideas (which were probably true!).


An example of "Bang on the table"

BarrySanders20 said...

He should hire fat white people who dress alike and chant Shame! Shame! Shame! at the potential customers because weknow this is OK.

WV: tstichya. What you wait for the doctor to do after being assaulted by a union thug.

dbp said...

why? Because one disruptive guy is a nut but a whole bunch of people doing the same kind of thing is a movement and has "rights".

somefeller said...

Overly aggressive homeless people are a problem in lots of cities. They undermine the ability for everyone else to have some degree of decent public space and shouldn't be tolerated. If he was arrested just for criticizing bad art, obviously that's unacceptable, but it sounds like the problem was that he was an obnoxious, vaguely threatening bum who was causing a disturbance, and the message being sent was ancillary. Lock him up.

ricpic said...

Well, he was right about artists stealing from one another.

Bad artists copy; good artists steal.

--Picasso

Curious George said...

@ somefeller

Did you take into account that the alleged crime took place "in the most important free speech forum in the state."

Because apparently that's a critical legal issue.

somefeller said...

Did you take into account that the alleged crime took place "in the most important free speech forum in the state." Because apparently that's a critical legal issue.

Heh. I guess I didn't take that into account. The Wisconsin Legislature named a particular place to be "the most important free speech forum in the state"? Those crazy cheeseheads! What will they think of next?

PackerBronco said...

Too bad our governor's first name isn't "Art". I would have loved the confusion on the part of the Capitol Square police over whether to arrest someone for yelling "Your Art is terrible!"

jimh said...

A little-known footnote to the Hans Christian Anderson account reports that the boy who shouted that the Emperor had no clothes spent eight years in the dungeon.

The Crack Emcee said...

The critic then entered the artist's tent to continue his harangue.

I think I've found the problem,...

nevadabob said...

"He shouldn't be subjected to different law than the protesters complaining about Scott Walker. That would be viewpoint discrimination."

Come on, Ann.

This isn't about viewpoints.

It's about who is friends with the police union and who isn't.

The Democrat Party protestors enjoy police protection because that's the way the Mafia works.

The corrupt police don't care what this guy is saying. In that sense, they are viewpoint neutral. If you're not union and they're not with you - then they're going to arrest you for vagrancy regardless of what viewpoint you take.

That's cruel viewpoint neutrality.

This is garden variety corruption amongst unionized armed thugs. Nothing more. The Madison, Wisconsin police are scumbags.

They don't care about this guy's viewpoint: They care that he's not on their "protected" list.

Portia said...

I wish Mark Twain was still alive, I miss him so much at times like this. I know William. He is my brother. And you would have to have been present at the time to understand why the police felt it would be safer to arrest him. He is bipolar. Carol Herman said it best: "Isn't it an act of kindness to arrest a homeless person? They'll get a bed. And, a meal. At least." And maybe some medical treatment. Especially when that person will not give up the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants, whenever and wherever the hell he wants to do it, whatever the fallout to the people around him. I urge you to take him home, Ms. Althouse.

purplepenquin said...

"If GOP demonstrations got that rowdy, they'd be cellmates with the homeless dude."

"This isn't about viewpoints. It's about who is friends with the police union and who isn't. The Democrat Party protestors enjoy police protection because that's the way the Mafia works. The corrupt police don't care what this guy is saying. In that sense, they are viewpoint neutral. If you're not union and they're not with you - then they're going to arrest you for vagrancy regardless of what viewpoint you take."


I saw Vicki McK yelling&screaming at the Tea Party rally and she wasn't arrested. I also saw a bunch of Klansmen yelling and shouting at their rally, and they weren't arrested.

The Crack Emcee said...

Portia,

I urge you to take him home, Ms. Althouse.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Then he can luxuriate in the Meadehouse garden,...

Carol_Herman said...

Zamie, the homeless man, at first sat on a bench BY the jewelers stall.

The stall is referred to as a tent.

And, to do his yelling, Zamie walked INTO the tent. That's not city property. That is RENTED SPACE.

The man from Florida had to know there was going to be an art fair! This had to have been advertised in some way ... in order to attract those who sell their wares at art fairs.

Homeless people who want to be left alone should learn to STOP threatening behaviors ... unless they want the arrest ... to have a clean bed and a free meal. Like a hotel. Sort'a. Not a 1st Amendment issue. Also, IF he was pushing a cart with his belongings in it ... then that was THEFT. Those carts aren't free. And, they're not supposed to be removed from a store's parking lot.

Zamie wasn't in a store's parking lot. (Which would be subject to the rules that a store owner can decide not to serve you ... And, to throw you out.)

Carol_Herman said...

The good news for Zamie ... given that the art fair participant was from Florida ... Is that by the time this matter reaches a courtroom ... the man from Florida would have left Wisconsin.

The judge will just dismiss the case.

You know, you need art fair participants, even if you just go and look, and don't buy a thing.

And, through word-of-mouth ... if art fair participants have to deal with loony homeless people ... it sours them. Word-of-mouth is a powerful thing.

You might find this out next year?

While the guy selling gyros may find himself surrounded by more competition?

Lives spent on the roads ain't easy.

Freder Frederson said...

Why he in somebody's face in some different way that other people have been over the past year? Or was he just hurting the business of the artist who didn't want the stuff she was selling criticized. Scott Walker probably didn't like having the stuff he was selling criticized, but 1000s of people shouted about it wildly for weeks on end. Why weren't they arrested?

You're a Constitutional Law professor and you make a fundamentally wrong statement like this?! What brand of Constitutional Law do you teach.

There is a vast difference between spirited political debate and an apparently not-quite-sane old man screaming at a vendor who is trying to make a living.

Sorry you felt you were harangued, but you have used your quite public forum to severely criticize the anti-Walker protesters for the last year)

Freder Frederson said...

The artist was selling her wares on the sidewalk of the most important free speech forum in the state. It's not your uncle's restaurant.

The artist rented the space for the fair (the booth fee for the fair is $462). The fair is also juried by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. I highly doubt that anyone passing off "Chinese junk" as original art would make it through the jury process.

Hockey Bum said...

"There is a vast difference between spirited political debate and an apparently not-quite-sane old man screaming at a vendor who is trying to make a living."

Would it have made a difference if the "screaming" had political content? Or is this just a case of different standards for different people??