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Protester: Port Police 'Beat Me Up'

Bill Wisth, a Mequon man who also protested at a Thiensville restaurant in May over an all-you-can-eat buffet, claims his arrest on Saturday was unwarranted, and that police beat him up. Law officials say he was uncooperative and threatening his son.

A 54-year-old Mequon man who protested a Thiensville restaurant for cutting him off during an all-you-can-eat buffet earlier this year was protesting again Monday, this time outside the Port Washington Police Department, alleging he is the victim of police brutality.

"It's just not right for people to beat you up, then use some law book (to arrest you)," Bill Wisth said, adding that the Monday protest "is a good cause, though — because the police are kind of, like, above the law."

Law enforcement officials said Wisth was "uncooperative" and threatened his son — who Wisth says owes him money — resulting in his arrest on Saturday. The district attorney is reviewing the case that could land Wisth disorderly conduct and resisting arrest criminal charges.

Saturday's incident

Wisth said he had called the Port Washington police on Saturday for a welfare check on his son, a Port Washington resident. Wisth told police he had not seen or heard from his son in several days, and he also was not answering his apartment door. The police arrived and eventually did find his son inside. That's when Wisth said he asked police to have his son provide him with $750 that he was owed.

Port Washington Police Chief Kevin Hingiss confirmed that Wisth had called for a welfare check, "which turned out not to be true."

"His son didn’t want anything to do with him," Hingiss said. "We asked (Bill Wisth) to leave, he left the apartment, however (he) stayed on the apartment grounds."

Wisth said he had gone outside after being told to leave, but then had to wait for his ride to come pick him back up. While he was waiting, the police left the apartment complex and approached him outside.

That's when Wisth said the "brutality" begins: one officer held out a tazer gun while another arrested him.

While Wisth said he was not sure why he was being arrested, Hingiss said that after being asked to leave the apartment grounds again, Wisth started making threats against his son.

"Basically, he said that he was going to kick his son's ass and collect the money that was owed," Hingiss said.

Officers took him to the Port Police Department before heading to the county jail, where Wisth said three Port officers and two Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office deputies were involved in removing him from the car and transferring him to the jail cell.

"All three of them grabbed me and threw me down on the hood of the car," he said, adding that a button was ripped off his pants and his wrists remain swollen. "These people are beating me up — all I (wanted) was to check on my son."

Ozaukee Sheriff's Office Operations Capt. Jeff Taylor said it's common for so many law enforcement officers to be involved when a person is uncooperative — which Wisth was before he even he arrived at the county jail at about 1:15 p.m. Saturday, according to authorities.

"There were at least three Port officers that had come with him because he was apparently resisting the initial arrest … so they had called us in advance and told us that he was uncooperative — so it's our normal policy when someone is uncooperative (to be ready to assist)," Taylor said. A use of force report has been filed, but is not yet available for release.

A history with the courts, and protesting

This is not Wisth's first contact with the court system. In fact, Wisth has been involved in a series of civil and small claims cases, according to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website. But he also has criminal disorderly conduct charges in 2009 and 1997. Wisth also was found guilty on felony charges of violating bail in 1998 and misdemeanor charges of possessing cocaine and marijuana in 1996.

It was Wisth who called police to Chuck's Place in Thiensville, however, after the restaurant had cut off his all-you-can-eat supply, according to WTMJ4. Restaurant workers say Wisth had eaten 12 pieces and was given eight more for the road in hopes he would leave, according to JSOnline.com, but he called police — and came back protesting two days later.

Wisth did not say exactly how long he planned to protest outside the Port Police Department, but said he did have plans to move his protest to in front of the Sheriff's Office at some point. He also said he plans to file complaints with the Police and Fire Commission as well as the jail supervisor, and mentioned the possibility of lawsuits.

Annie Bahringer September 25, 2012 at 05:25 PM
He probably liked his taste of fame from the Chuck's restaurant incident and thought he could get some more. Too bad he had nothing important to say because he certainly knows how to get attention...
Terry September 25, 2012 at 06:33 PM
"taste of fame"... Nice turn of phrase. I saw what you did there....
David C. Couper September 25, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Allegations of police corruption or use of excessive force hurts everyone – especially the police -- in terms of lost cooperation, support and trust – which, in turn, diminishes their effectiveness. For more see, “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” (Amazon.com). And visit my blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com.
MB September 25, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I wonder where he works. He must have a great job that his employer would allow him frequent time off for his protesting hobby :)
Patricia Layton September 27, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Oh, c'mon! Is this guy serious?

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