MADISON, Wis.- A Madison radio personality has filed a lawsuit against three city police officers responsible for his unconstitutional arrest last summer.
Michael Crute and Dominic Salvia of “The Devil’s Advocates” on 92.1 FM (The Mic) planned on meeting at the Capitol Rotunda for lunch on July 24, 2013, during the controversial Solidarity Sing Along. Crute sang with the protesters while he was waiting for his friend and received a citation for participating in an unlawful event. He challenged the citation in February of this year and the court dismissed it.
Salvia was not participating in the protest but observing it as a member of the media and taking pictures. Officer Adam Fell told him leave, and he was compliant. As Salvia was leaving, Fell told Salvia he was under arrest for participating in an unlawful event even as Salvia protested that he was a member of the media.
“All these other people are here with cameras and they are not getting arrested,” Salvia said as he was getting arrested.
The state dismissed Salvia’s citation just like Crute’s. However, Salvia will always have an arrest in his record because the authorities saw his observing an “unlawful event” as participating in the “unlawful event”.
“When we find that unconstitutional rules like these are being vigorously enforced we have to draw our line of defense and take a stand on behalf of the First Amendment,” Attorney Jeff Scott Olson said at the press conference held at the Capitol on March 31. “And that’s what we’re doing in the lawsuit we filed today.”
Both Crute and Salvia have noticed changes in their lives ever since their initial arrests.
Although he can’t directly accuse them of leaving because of the arrest, Crute said he has lost at least 60 clients at his business. He believes if people continue to see his name in the paper, they may choose not to do business with him.
“If people feel like they can’t trust me or feel like my politics have invaded my ability to do business, it costs me substantial money,” Crute said.
A picture of Salvia’s arrest at the Rotunda appeared on national media. The government seemed to tag him because his long hair and physical appearance made him blend in with the hippie protesters, Salvia said.
“How am I supposed to project an independent media guy, wanting to have a conversation, wanting to engage, when there’s a picture of me getting arrested at the Capitol?” Salvia said.
“The Devil’s Advocates” is a weekly political talk show on which liberal Crute and conservative Salvia interview a variety of people and debate a variety of issues. Association with the protests could affect how people view the two DJ’s and their politics.
The arrest at the Capitol had other effects on their ability to run their show, Crute said. Journalists do not need press credentials to cover an event in the Rotunda, but they do need them to cover other newsworthy events.
Crute and Salvia have been unable to get their press credentials approved. As members of a new media, they need to get information as timely as possible to post on their website. Now they can’t get to the story as quickly as other news outlets can because they aren’t allowed the same access as other journalists.
“We can’t do our jobs because of the delay,” Crute said.
Salvia seeks compensatory damages because of the money he lost in attorney fees and the money he has lost and will lose because of the arrest on his record. He also seeks punitive damages to deter the defendants from threatening the media’s freedom of press in the future.
“When you mess with the devil, “ Salvia said at the end of his statement. “You get the horns.”