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Police seize professor’s cameras

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Police seize professor’s cameras

Hunters surround Professor Joe Brown and the wolf patrollers. Photo courtesy of Joe Brown.

Hunters surround Professor Joe Brown and the wolf patrollers. Photo courtesy of Joe Brown.

Hunters surround Professor Joe Brown and the wolf patrollers. Photo courtesy of Joe Brown.

Hunters surround Professor Joe Brown and the wolf patrollers. Photo courtesy of Joe Brown.

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Joe Brown, assistant professor of digital media and performing arts, received his cameras back Feb. 12 after they were confiscated by police in late January.

To retrieve his cameras, Brown drove to Crandon, Wisconsin after receiving a call from police late last week. Although Brown received his cameras back, the SD cards were retained by police.

I have copies of about 70 percent of what was on the cards, but not all,” Brown said.

As Brown waits to receive his SD cards, there has been no information released about potential charges. “I still have no indication of the charges or if there will be charges at all,” Brown said.

Brown was filming in northern Wisconsin for his documentary when local police confiscated his camera equipment Jan. 27.

The film, “Operation Wolf Patrol,” follows Rod Coronado and his group, which works to end wolf hunting in the United States. Brown was traveling with the “wolf patrollers” when they spotted some hunters near Laona, Wisconsin, on a public road.

The group monitored the situation from a distance, ensuring that none of the hunting practices were illegal.

“Soon, the hunters became irate,” Brown said.

The hunters surrounded the group with five to 10 trucks, Brown said. Brown and Coronado exited the vehicle to film the blockade. They were verbally assaulted by the hunters, Brown said.

From there, the situation escalated.

“At this point, a truck pulled up to Coronado and drove at him aggressively, though slowly, and almost knocked him over,” Brown said. “Coronado slammed on the truck’s hood and I ran around two vehicles to document this activity and was met with the same truck driving towards me.”

The wolf patrollers then locked themselves in their vehicle, waiting until the police arrived.

“The police then took statements from all involved and confiscated my cameras as evidence despite my assuring them that I would give them copies of all of my footage and not consenting to the seizure of my cameras,” Brown said. 

The police also did not explain any processes, Brown said. He was told that a warrant would be drawn up that Monday. 

Brown is working with a group of lawyers, some of them affiliated with Animal Legal Defense Fund. Sarah Hanneken, the litigation fellow at ALDF, said she feels that both the hunters and law enforcement tried to obstruct Brown’s work.

“So, to the extent the Wisconsin statute impinges on professor Brown’s documentary work, the Animal Legal Defense Fund intends to vindicate his First Amendment right to engage in his chosen medium of expression,” Hanneken said.

“The ALDF has filed a previous lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s new hunter harassment law based on my work,” Brown said. “These same lawyers are using this recent incident as further argument for their case.”

Erik Ugland, an associate professor of digital media and performing arts, said the First Amendment was violated by the detention and confiscation of his equipment.

“He is there to chronicle these episodes, not to make a political point, and certainly not to harass these hunters,” Ugland said.

Ugland said he believes Brown was acting as a journalist and a documentarian.

“(Brown) did make that clear to the officers in that case … They confiscated his equipment anyway,” Ugland said.

Forest County Sheriff’s Department did not return phone calls to comment on this situation.

Brown has not been charged with any crime. As he awaits word from the county, he said he plans to work with his lawyers and decide what his next steps will be. Until then, Brown said he is starting to release the video footage on his documentary’s Facebook page.


This story is developing and was updated Feb. 12.

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16 Responses to “Police seize professor’s cameras”

  1. Daniel Soshnik on February 7th, 2018 10:57 am

    Charge the Police Dept with theft.

  2. Randall Hansen on February 7th, 2018 12:51 pm

    What the police did was Illegal,They had No warrant,No excuse except we can only assume they are in with the criminal mob of Hunters themselves

  3. Cortney Britten Cleereman on February 7th, 2018 1:14 pm

    Does anyone find it interesting that Joe Brown an Assistant Professor at Marquette University would involve himself with a known convicted felon, Rod Coronado to do to a documentary on wolf hunting that isn’t currently even legal in Wisconsin?

  4. John M on February 15th, 2018 8:18 am

    So are you defending the hunters that (1) hit Mr. Coronado with their truck twice, and (2) blocked their vehicle? Seems if you don’t like illegal actions this might be of interest to you. I have nothing against legitimate hunters as there are many in Pennsylvania. Just curious why you would defend both the hunters and police actions.

  5. Alan on February 7th, 2018 1:58 pm

    It appears to me Joe Brown and Wolf Patrol violated a) and c) of this law.

    7. Engaging in a series of 2 or more acts carried out over time, however short or long, that show a continuity of purpose and that are intended to impede or obstruct a person who is engaged in lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping, or an activity associated with lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping, including any of the following:

    a. Maintaining a visual or physical proximity to the person.

    b. Approaching or confronting the person.

    c. Photographing, videotaping, audiotaping, or through other electronic means, monitoring or recording the activities of the person. This subd. 7. c. applies regardless of where the act occurs.

  6. ernie meyer on February 8th, 2018 8:34 pm

    they just recently
    changed these laws to suit the hunters…the hunters I assume do not want the general public to know what they are up to. Why not, is my question. Are they doing something illegal? We need transparency in these matters so that people are not tempted to break hunting laws.

  7. John M on February 15th, 2018 8:20 am

    So you have nothing against hitting person with a truck or blocking them in? Cite that laws.

  8. john M on February 23rd, 2018 9:53 am

    So your not going to answer my question, just regurgitate the copy/paste statute like a ambulance chasing attorney?

  9. Jim Harris on February 7th, 2018 4:03 pm

    IMO, these protestors are true, fearless American heroes.

  10. Robert Stark on February 7th, 2018 6:58 pm

    Unacceptable to see wolf hunter bully tactics spill over into the Sheriff’s Dept. Apparently no one is immune. Wait until it happens to you or yours. They all must be held accountable.

  11. MG on February 9th, 2018 12:12 am

    If you are there to hunt, then hunt legally on “our” public land. We the people have every right to use the land too, even if not hunting. Since when is documenting the use of public land illegal? Why so irritated by it? Got something to hide? Feeling inspired to do some documenting myself!

  12. Casey John on February 13th, 2018 2:06 pm

    There are many hunters ‘up north’ who routinely pursue coyotes and other predators this time of the year. Poaching wolves is very rare, even though they are in record numbers. Perhaps Professor Brown’s time would be better spent on Milwaukee’s north side filming some of the murders that sadly are not rare at all. He would then be actually doing some good for the people in his community instead of needlessly bothering those fellas. If I was being filmed without consent , I would be furious too.

  13. John M on February 15th, 2018 8:22 am

    What about the detainment and hitting someone with a truck? You can thank these idiots for making this even more widespread regarding the hunters actions.

  14. john M on February 23rd, 2018 9:55 am

    Note the one stupid redneck admits on camera that “his wife works for the judge.”

  15. John M on February 18th, 2018 2:01 pm

    Seems like the one idiot hunter said:

    “My wife works for the judge!”

    Amazing on the stupidity of this one person. Wolves have more brains.

  16. Erik Summer on February 20th, 2018 3:09 pm Maybe Mr. Brown should have a better taste in who he conducts his work with. This rod guy sure looks bad on himself and the university!!!

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