A frequent state Capitol protester known for navigating the statehouse on a Segway was charged Monday with two counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct for allegedly harassing journalists working in and near the second-floor Capitol press room.
Jeremy Ryan, 24, of Madison is accused of hurling taunts and insults at journalists, including singing insulting songs about the death of a longtime journalist, Richard Wheeler. Wheeler died suddenly in November 2011, and the Capitol press room was named for him after his death.
Ryan also shouted derogatory names for news organizations, including the State Journal, a criminal complaint says.
According to the complaint:
Wheeler's daughter and successor at the Wheeler Report, Gwyn Guenther, spoke with Capitol police July 11 after Ryan sang about the death of her father.
Guenther said Ryan regularly stood outside the Capitol press room in June and July, yelling at reporters in a voice that at times was so loud they couldn't hear a phone ringing. She told Capitol police that she feared for her safety when she's outside the press room.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Jason Stein told police that, on July 9, as he walked into the press room Ryan was outside it saying, "Dick Wheeler is dead" in a chanting-singing voice. When Stein told him Wheeler was his friend, Ryan responded that he was exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.