MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – A TV crew streaming footage from the Capitol building “was shut down at a very critical moment just at the moment the police were to remove the protesters from the Capitol,” and the state cut off access to its electricity and wireless Internet because it said the crew was “union biased,” the producer says in a constitutional complaint.
Mark Roughen sued Wisconsin and its Secretary of Administration Michael Huebsch in Dane County Court. He claims Gov. Scott Walker’s administration told him and his crew they “would not be granted access to broadcast because they were union biased.”
Roughen says his live streams of the Capitol protests have been used by major media outlets, including CNN, the BBC and Fox.
Roughen works for Diversified Media Enterprises, of Madison, for the Michigan Labor Press, and is a correspondent for the syndicated Rick Smith radio show.
Roughen says he had the proper permits for the Internet but was shut down on Feb. 27 as police moved in against the protesters.
Reuters estimates 70,000 people had rallied at the Capitol that weekend to protest Gov. Walker’s so-called Budget Repair Bill.
On March 1, Roughen says, he and his crew were denied entrance to the Capitol “because they were union biased.”
After being readmitted to the Capitol on March 3, Roughen says, state police sat on his request for Internet access and electricity for four days.
Police granted Internet and electricity to Fox News during that time, Roughen says in his complaint.
Roughen says the Capitol police went so far as to prevent his crew from plugging into an electric outlet. Yet “the Capitol Police officers who observed Fox accessing the electrical receptacles are the same officers who denied Roughen access.”
Roughen seeks damages for constitutional violations and an injunction allowing him “to document and broadcast the matters of public concern that have been and continue to occur within the Capitol.”
He is represented by Douglas Phebus with Arellano & Phebus of Middleton, Wisc.