My name is Abe Van Dyke. I am a photojournalist who was arrested by the Milwaukee County Sheriffs department for being on Interstate 43 photographing protestors on 12/19/14 in Milwaukee, WI. This is my story.
Friday started as any other day. I woke up and checked Facebook like anyone else and saw on the Coalition For Justice page that another event would be taking place.
I decided that once again I would go photograph the event and headed into Milwaukee, WI once again that afternoon. As usual I found myself rushed driving into the city from my home in Waukesha, WI as there are multiple construction projects on Interstate 94 as well as the side streets. I made my way in and parked near Red Arrow Park where protestors gather around 4pm.
While putting on my gear, I decided to only grab my Nikon D4s along with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, 16mm f/3.5 fisheye lens, 50mm f/1.4 lens along with a Black Rapid strap and Think Tank Photo lens pouch I attached to my belt. A few weeks before I had posted a photo to my Instagram account of what I took to that protest.
I put on my Kevlar vest because I survived photographing Ferguson and quite frankly don’t trust anyone. I then took a gulp of water, grabbed my gloves and started walking towards Red Arrow Park where I could hear protestors who were already gathered.
Upon arriving I took my regular place setting photo.
Shortly after protestors began to march, I asked a fellow photojournalist as to where they might be heading and he believed they were going to the Safety building so I sent out a tweet. I try to keep an active, up to date feed going while covering news on my Twitter profile.
— VDC Photo News (@VDCphotoNEWS) December 19, 2014
Shortly after this tweet I took a selfie and posted it to my personal Facebook account as I have done at many other event.
I continued to photograph protestors marching in the middle of the streets throughout downtown Milwaukee.
As the crowd took an unfamiliar path, I continued to follow them as Dontre Hamilton’s mother Maria Hamilton and Nate Hamilton led the march going underneath the Milwaukee Area Technical College skywalk.
Upon arriving at the intersection of West McKinley Avenue and North 6th Street I sent out another Tweet.
— VDC Photo News (@VDCphotoNEWS) December 19, 2014
I continued to photograph the protestors as traffic was stopped. Shown here in Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontre Hamilton who was killed by Milwaukee Police earlier in 2014.
Protestors turned on to West Fon Du Lac Avenue and began to march.
Seeing the opportunity for a unique photo of police following protestors from behind, I ran up an embankment to photograph from a pedestrian bridge and sent out a tweet.
— VDC Photo News (@VDCphotoNEWS) December 19, 2014
Once I saw that protestors were going to be passing me, I took a moment and stopped to shoot from a pedestrian walking path on my way back towards the group.
At the intersection of West Fon Du Lac Avenue and the Interstate 43 on and off ramps heading North, protestors were told by leaders of the march to split into two groups.
— VDC Photo News (@VDCphotoNEWS) December 19, 2014
At this point I followed the group heading towards the Interstate 43 Southbound entrance ramp.
At the entrance of the ramp, I found it to be empty as police had already shut down traffic in the area.
Protestors began to march up the Interstate 43 Southbound entrance ramp so I put out a tweet.
— VDC Photo News (@VDCphotoNEWS) December 19, 2014
Upon reaching the top of the ramp and stopped, I could see Interstate 43. I took a few more photos as Milwaukee Sheriffs arrived on scene.
Protestors decided to march onto Interstate 43 in an attempt to stop traffic.
Milwaukee Sheriffs ushered protestors off of Interstate 43 upon arriving and I sent out a tweet.
— VDC Photo News (@VDCphotoNEWS) December 19, 2014
Standing in the emergency lane, I turned around to see that more Milwaukee Sheriffs had arrived.
As Milwaukee Sheriffs and protestors argued I took more photographs.
I moved my position back towards the wall.
I spotted a construction barrel that had be tossed aside in the middle of the Interstate 43 Southbound entrance ramp.
I believe that protestors were instructed by Milwaukee Sheriffs to line up against the wall so I photographed them.
I noticed that more Milwaukee Sheriffs had arrived on scene and were blocking any exit from Interstate 43. You can see that one officer has zip tie handcuffs prepared.
I turned to my right and saw that protestors were being arrested.
While photographing two Milwaukee Sheriffs arresting a protestor, another records the incident with a cell phone.
I turned took a few more photos and saw the line of officers pictured earlier begin to advance towards protestors. One officer asked another if the media was included and was told to arrest everyone. This is my last photograph before an officer put plastic zip tie handcuffs on me.
The timestamp of this photograph is off by 1hour due to the fact that I never change it for daylight savings time which means it was taken at 4:53:22PM on 12/19/14.
A Milwaukee Sheriff ordered me to put my camera down and I complied while replying “my name is Abe Van Dyke and I am a freelance photojournalist. My photos are sent in to Demotix which is owned by Corbis . I would like to speak with a NPPA lawyer because I am a photojournalist.” This is the best recollection of what I said to the officer, though if he was wearing a body camera, this interaction will have been recorded.
The officer proceeded to put zip tie handcuffs on me and led me to a Milwaukee Sheriff SUV. I was not read my Miranda Rights, though I am not a lawyer so I do not know if they must do that or not.
I sat alone and a few minutes passed where my mind began to wander until an older protestor was brought to join me in the SUV. The officer said “you two can talk” as he left.
With a heart racing, I lost track of time talking with the older man probably in his 60s. An officer came to get us after awhile and brought us over to the group of arrested protestors mostly sitting on the Interstate 43 South on ramp. I was instructed to sit, though with my camera strapped around my shoulders I was having a difficult time sitting without damaging it. An officer came and helped me by carefully putting the camera on my lap and I thanked him.
Sitting on the concrete I was now lumped in as a protestor being on Interstate 43. The officers were told by someone above themselves to arrest everyone as I noted earlier so I cannot blame them for following orders. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article claims that “according to Nathaniel Hamilton, he and some of the other demonstrators were gathered on a freeway ramp. When authorities told them to leave, police began to arrest people before they could disperse, he said.”
A tweet was put out by the Milwaukee Police Department.
Despite misinformed statements reported by some media, no notice needs to be provided prior to arrest.
— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) December 20, 2014
We waited awhile and a mobile police vehicle was brought in to remove us. Women were separated from the men as they began to fill the vehicle. Once it was filled, a Milwaukee County Transit Bus was called in for the rest of us and we waited a bit more.
I noticed that a few people had gathered on the road overlooking the Interstate 43 Southbound entrance ramp. Here is a photo by Instagram user BIKOBAKER of the area we would be seated.
Protestors began to ask who I was and who I worked for so I told them. Eventually the city bus arrived and men were told to sit in the back. An officer made a statement that it doesn’t matter if you’re white or black, all men are going to the back after a protestor began to argue with him about moving. Upon sitting on the furthest bench in the back so that my camera had somewhere to go incase it couldn’t be nudged onto my lap, I noticed a clock in the bus that read read 6:05PM. We sat for awhile and eventually the bus left. The bus continued on Interstate 43 before getting off and turning around. We we taken back on Interstate 43 and got off again headed toward the Milwaukee County Jail.
Upon arriving at the jail, the city bus I was transported in stopped inside of the secure car port. The other police vehicle filled initially with women was unloaded first. The women began to be searched and told to lay out their belongings on a table just outside of my window.
As time went on a few protestors on my bus complained about how tight the plastic zip tie handcuffs were. In one case an officer placed the protestor next to be processed so the cuffs would come off quicker. Personally my right hand was very tight and my hand tingled, but I did not mention it to officers.
While sitting there, I noticed a protestor had slipped his plastic cuffs and was carefully on his phone. Another protestor also slipped his cuffs and nicely unzipped my jacket and took off my hat. He help others who couldn’t do this for themselves as well.
I asked the protestor to take a photo of me and put it out on Twitter and Facebook. I knew that my friends and followers would be wondering what happened to me since I live tweet incidents like this as seen before. He took a photo and posted it for me. On an editorial note, he took the liberty to name it the “justice bus” after a joke was made earlier.
Eventually the clock read 8:05PM inside of the bus. I was still waiting to get off, though the lights were kept on. Every so often they would turn off so the bus would have to be started. This was much appreciated because then air vents would cool the bus which got hot with several people on it bundled up in winter weather attire.
Milwaukee Sheriff Officers continued to remove us from the bus one by one. Eventually it was recognized that protestors had access to their phones and that a few may have slipped their cuffs. We were told that if we were out of our cuffs to start taking off our attired and prepare to be searched. A few minutes later an officer spotted a protestor on his phone from outside of the bus. He and another officer came to the back of the bus and took away 3protestors. From what I saw they were then moved up the line to be processed.
One protestor talked with an officer about how long it had been taking and the Sheriff responded “we’ve never had to deal with anything like this before.” This made sense, but it was a slow process.
I was seated next to a friend of mine who is an amateur photojournalist. He was able to slip one of his cuffs and access his backpack. He held the bottle and gave me a sip of water which at that point was the best thing in the world to me. He mentioned that he should take his blood thinner medication and an officer stopped him. The officer said, “Just wait. Since your’e technically in our custody we have to be responsible. I’ll make sure you get done next”. The officer followed up on his promise and he was taken off of the bus.
Now only 5of us remained on the bus. We were sitting only a little while before a new officer came on and started gathering our drivers licenses. I was firmly cuffed, so I directed the officer into my right inside chest pocket of my jacket to retrieve it. He wrote down the information and at the same time was told by another officer that we were all to get off.
After several hours on the bus, it was nice to be off. An officer directed me over and struggled to cut off my plastic zip tie handcuffs and even mentioned they were on a bit tight. I was instructed to sit on a bench alongside other protestors. During this process an officer questioned me.
An officer came up to me while I was sitting there. He noticed that I was wearing a kevlar vest and asked “do you wear body armor to all protests?”. I replied, “I am a freelance photojournalist who survived a week down in Ferguson. I don’t trust anyone”. The officer asked, “where did you get this from?”. I replied, “I got it from a local shop”. I am no lawyer, but I believe that is would be considered questioning even though I was at no point read my Miranda Rights. I was instructed to take off my bullet proof vest and gave both it and my camera to an officer.
I was instructed once again to sit and was handcuffed to a rail while sitting on a bench along side protestors. I waited and was eventually let out of my handcuff. I was instructed to remove everything out of my pockets and did so. I also needed to take off my necklace and my nipple ring after I took off an under shirt. As officers began to bag and process my personal effects, I turned around to be patted down to ensure that I was not attempting to bring anything into the jail. I took off my shoes and was told to take a pair of flip flops from a large bag and go sit back down.
Upon sitting, I was once again handcuffed to the rail and waited as other protestors were processed. Once everyone was done, we were let out of our handcuff and told to follow officers. We proceeded to the entrance of the jail, though were forced to wait. The city bus which we had been transported on was unable to get out of the car port due to another officer’s vehicle being in the way. The bus then had to back up before the garage door could be shut. Once it was shut and confirmed by officers inside, the sliding door was opened for us to go into the first room.
In a fairly narrow room we stood waiting a few moment. The bench was filled with other protestors who had been let in before us. An officer came out and said that they needed to be moved somewhere else. A bit of confusion between officers ensued and eventually the group already inside were moved out. The fresh group, which happened to be the second to last, included myself. We were instructed to sit and wait. While sitting I read the signs as one by one officers called us over to get preliminary information about us. Once everyone was done, we were then told we would be moved.
Walking first in the line, I went through a door and made my way into the “bull pen”. We were walked around it and sent to a small hallway which connected to another room. An officer stood at the door and then told us to go over to the benches. I walked over and noticed the first group which we had encountered was already sitting there. We made a bit of small talk as each of us was called over to see an initial nurse. She weighed us, took our temperature and our blood pressure along with asking a few other questions.
After seeing the nurse on the other side of this room, I was sent back to the benches. The group was warned a few times by officers sitting in the middle of the room inside a desk setup that we were being too loud. The crowd quieted, though after awhile we would be warned again.
We were next called up one by one to get a temporary tag put around our wrists. The tag had our names on them written on with a magic marker. We were then told to sit back down.
At one point, an older male protestor spoke up and began to yell at the officers. He was promptly put into a cell and removed from the rest of us. As the time passed a few people were issued citations: one for “disorderly conduct” which carries a fine of $484.00 with no required court appearance. The second citation was for “Pedestrian/Bike on Expressway/Prohibited” which carries a fine of $178.80 with no required court appearance.
Around 10:30PM I believe we got our final warning and were told we would be leaving this secondary bull pen. I was in the first row called to go into a cell which had just released other arrestees to see the nurse. Upon being locked in the room with 3 other men, we found that the toilet had a roll of paper towel and sandwich stuffed into it. The window the the secondary bull pen which I had just left was closed, though through the other door of this cell, we could see into the main bull pen.
The cell we were in was roughly 6-7feet wide and maybe 15-20feet long. Not horribly cramped, but with the toilet jammed and the floor dirty with hair, it allowed 2 men to comfortably sit on the bench while two others stood.
Each of us took up an area to occupy and time was passed with a bit of chit chat. Eventually officers called out a name of one of the protestors in the cell I was in so he began to bang on the door to get their attention. An officer came over and opened the sliding widow to see in and spoke with the man. It turned out they were looking for his son, who also happened to be in our cell. Awhile later both him and his son would be pulled out of the cell for more processing leaving myself and another man alone. At least we could see out the window now.
We were brought prepackaged food a bit later on. I believe it was around 1am, though it was difficult to read the clock on a wall about 40yards away through a dirty window. The officer in gloves took out our 4slices of bread and bologna from their package and gave one to each of us. We ate and the dry bread reminded us how thirsty we were. Unfortunately the cell I was in only had the metal toilet which was clogged and sink attachment. The cold water did not work and there was no bubbler feature on top to access water.
The father and son were called out of our cell awhile later. This left me and another man to talk a bit before another protestor was brought to our cell. It turns out he had been taken to Froedtert Hospital after his glasses had been smashed while being arrested. He was given a tetanus shot because the glass had cut him above the eye and was bandaged.
The three of us would talk for a bit, then change places and walk around a little bit in our cell just so there was something different to see. The injured protestor exercised at one point while I sat on the dirt floor watching the main bull pen. I watched as one by one a few female protestors would be sent to see a nurse and get a health check, get fingerprinted and have their mug shot taken. The process took 14minutes per person from what I could tell.
Eventually we settled down and started sharing stories about ourselves. One man in the cell was called out and was taken in to go through a process. It felt almost like a victory because after so many hours of just being left alone, this point it was somewhere around 3am, at least there was progress. He was taken to the main bull pen, processed and allowed to get a drink from the bubbler. I was jealous because I had spent at least 9hours and a very dry few sandwiches without access to drinking water.
The injured protestor and I started talking about ourselves and our pasts. It turned out to be a pretty in-depth conversation. Not something that I would have expected at least. I told him about my family and how just 2 days ago it was the 1 year anniversary of my mom’s death. It got personal and he talked about his own life as well. The other protestor who went out for processing was put back into our cell and we talked again some more. Then silence.
We sat in silence and the two men I was with attempted to relax on the bench while I sat again at the floor to the main bull pen. We heard around 3AM chants from another cell. Huddling one at the door to the smaller bull pen, we could hear and see officers attempting to speak with protestors at their cells while they were chanting. This only lasted a few minutes but it seemed to pick up spirits. One officer came in and began to yell. He said, along these lines but I don’t have a perfect memory, “You’re on our time now. I don’t care how long this takes. You want to protest, keep it on city streets and stay off the fucking highways. That’s ours. If you keep this up I don’t care we’ll keep you until 5″. He did not specify which 5 he was talking about, and since this was before 5AM, that is what I believe he had meant.
The cell block stayed very quiet as hours passed and protestors took turns looking into the small bull pen over the hours. I could see that cells 1, 3, 4 had male protestors in them and with my face pressed against the glass I could see another cell with women in it. I knew there had to be more, I just didn’t know where they were aside from one cell beside mine.
Around 6AM or 7AM a new officer came over to our cell door from the small bull pen. He spoke to me and the other injured protestor asking our names. It turned out that the injured protestors name wasn’t even on his list but mine was. This was disheartening for him to say the least. He proceeded to actually give us information and talk to us like humans. He explained that they planned to get the ball rolling again after 3rd shift had not done much. He explained they were overwhelmed after never dealing with a situation like this. He told us to be patient and that he hoped we would be out before 12PM noon. This gave us hope and a timeline. I had halfheartedly guess that we would be out by noon earlier in the night, but now with a confirmed time, it felt like something. We thanked the officer for being nice to us and he moved on to the cell directly next to ours and talked to them as well.
We were let out of our small cell and taken into the main bull pen. Those who had been out there and allowed to drink water and use the phone were put into a two corner cells which were larger than the one I had just been in. We were instructed to sit on the benches. At this point I was just happy that I could get to a bubbler. I had last had a sip of water from a fellow protestor while sitting on the city bus somewhere around 8PM. Finally 12hours or more later I was going to get water. I was so happy for something that I take for granted on a daily basis.
I sat with many protestors now on the benches. I believe it was around 8AM at this point and we were only now for the majority of us, a full 15hours after being arrested being officially being put into the system. We were called up to the desk one by one and questioned by an officer for our information which she typed into the computer. Then I was sent back to wait. Later on I was then called up again to have my mugshot taken and then sent back to my seat. Time goes by and I’m called up again for my jail identification. This included my mugshot, name, and identification number in the jail. I don’t remember the full number, but I found it funny that it ended in 420 especially since I’ve never smoked marijuana in my life.
Time passed on and we talked on the benches. Once you had your hard plastic identification bracelet and were officially in jail, you could use the number for phone calls. A sign stated that you were given 30seconds free and had suggestions on what to say to those that you called. We were allowed to drink from the bubbler and talked. Eventually the officers brought out a sandwich cart again and gave those who wanted the 4slices of bread and bologna their sandwich. I chose to decline because I thought it tasted horrible the first time around and was afraid of being thirsty if I was put in the small cell again.
After the sandwich cart, those who had been in the main bull pen and told they were going to be released soon where still sitting in their larger communal corner cells. They began to beat on the door and an officer came over and got a special meal. The older man with whom I had been put in the back of the Sheriff SUV so many hours ago was a diabetic and needed food. He was then check out by a nurse who was made fun of by a few protestors. Physically it appeared that she used quite a bit of bronzer and had an orange tint to her skin. The fact that she also had platinum blonde hair didn’t help people from making quiet jokes.
Eventually the women were taken from their cells and as passing, many protestors raised their fists in solidarity. A few began to clap though were quieted by their peers because we had been warned a few times that we were getting too loud. The women came back with different paperwork and were put back in their cells. Their personal effects were brought up so they were able to retrieve their items and prepared to leave. More time passed, though eventually we watched from the benches of the bull pen as a group of 12 were released and shortly after a group of 4 were released.
After 12PM noon, we were told that we would all be released soon but this took time. During this shift one officer in charge was very quick with his job and sped up the process. We were told that a secondary trip to see the nurse would be waived for some, though still others continued to see her. One man next to me had his identification photo taken with his glasses on by mistake. He was told that the information had already been sent into the state and that he would have to wait because “it’s not something that can be fixed in 2 minutes”. He waited for hours on the bench alongside us as protestors continued to be processed. Eventually others who were not part of the group started filtering in and he was still left waiting.
The officer who was helpful and listened to protestors when they had concerns and allowed a cell to be opened for bathroom usage, took a break. Things slowed down to pretty much nothing happening. Frustrated murmurs spread though everyone kept calm. The officer came back after his break, though he said we needed to go into a cell. He had everyone who was on the bench stand up who was there as part of the protest and then shuffled us towards 2 cells.
Once inside the mood was of frustration. Time passed as a few stories were told. Around shift change he came back to the cell with the bread and bologna sandwiches and all but myself and another man took one. I didn’t want to take my chances with the water coming out of the bubbler attached to the metal toilet and sink combo. I wasn’t about to take any chances with Montezuma’s Revenge. Time passed and frustration grew. Eventually a protestor would be called out one by one to see the nurse again. For one man it was his third time.
With 13 of us in the cell I’m sure was designed for less people, the temperature rose as frustrations rose. A few members of this group were released. It proceeded this way until my name was called. The moment I heard “Van Dyke” yelled I nearly jumped out of my skin. I made my way over to the door. It was opened by an officer and I was told to go over and see the nurse.
I walked over and began answering the information she asked. It was general things such as what are you allergic to, who is an emergency contact, are you suicidal etc. In the middle of it however an officer came over after saying my name again. The nurse said she wasn’t done, but the officer replied “he’s ready for release”. These were magic words to my ears. The nurse told me to go with him and that she wasn’t going to bother filling out the rest of the information.
I was told to stand against the wall behind a red line. I stood there smiling most likely and the door to the second corner cell was opened. Out walks the friend of mine who gave me a sip of water on the bus and whom I’ve know for years. It was purely coincidental but it was just such a freak accident I could hardly believe it.
We were told to begin walking. I got to a door and the officer came over and then pressed something to open it. I was at the head of the line and was told to turn right and then shortly told to turn left. A little bit down the hall I was told to turn right again and we were at a processing room. On one side stood a row of stall with hinged doors similar to a dressing room in a department store. We were told to wait and could hear a female changing at the end of the row of stalls. Opposite of the stalls was a long desk broken by a single entry way. On our left stood a male officer processing our paperwork. To the right stood a female officer who was in charge of discharge information.
I was called up first of the three men who were brought in. The officer cut off my plastic identification bracelet and confirmed my information. Next he held a pink form that he requested I sign which states my name Abe Van Dyke, and that I am “hereby ordered to appear” at check marked “Out of Custody Intake Court Room 221, Safety Building 821 W. State Street Milwaukee, WI 53133″. My court date is set for 2/23/15 at 8:30AM which will be nice because my birthday is 3days after that.
He told me that I could put my shoes on. I did so and then tossed the flip flops that were provided to me into a bin that was on wheels. The other two men were told to do the same and the male officer left the room. We stood while the female who had already been in this area came out of here dressing stall and eventually asked the female officer if we could put the rest of our stuff on and she said yes. As we got dressed the male officer came back to the room.
I started pulling things out of my bag and put my kevlar vest on first. I chose to explain that I was a photographer who went to Ferguson this summer to the female officer and she put one and one together. Next I pulled out my camera. It had been placed in this large garbage bag along with all of my other stuff. I immediately turned it on to ensure that my photos had not been deleted. They were not. I continued to pull things out out of a smaller baggie and put them into my pockets. Once were were all loaded up, I mentioned to the female officer that I would like something to state that I was in the jail as well as the fact that I had never been given a copy of what I was being charged with. She got printed off the information and gave me a copy.
Upon being discharged is the first time I officially knew what I was being charged with. I was give two tickets. The first ticket is for State Statute 346.16(2)(a) – Pedestrian/Bike on Expressway/Prohibited. The fine associated is $178.80 and no appearance is required.
The second ticked is State Statute 947.01(1) and Ordinance violated says 63.01 – Disorderly Conduct. The fine associated is $484.00 and no appearance is required.
The pink piece of paper and the two tickets are contradictory. One one hand the officer requested that I sign the pink paper saying that I must show up in court, whereas the actual tickets themselves say the “Appearance Required: NO”. I plan on going anyway, though this could be very confusing for others.
My group of 4 was then told to go to the door at the end and we could leave. Myself, my friend, a woman and another man were walked into a small hallway. I was the last one out and shut the door. Then the next door was able to open. During this time my friend took a selfie so I snuck into the photo too.
We walked around and found ourselves in a lobby of sorts with a few other people sitting there. We walked around and found an elevator but didn’t know where to go. I went back to the lobby and asked someone sitting there who replied, “Go to L to get out. It has a star next to it”. We got in the elevator and once getting out we found a door that opened to the outside.
Upon exiting the building it was a wonderful feeling. I couldn’t believe I was finally out of there with, but my first instinct was to pick up the camera. I began taking photos as I walked towards the protestors waiting outside for us and others to be released. You can see a man pointing and smiling in the center because he recognizes me.
Upon leaving I walked toward the crowd and was given hugs and handshakes by those who had become friends inside of the jail. I walked around a took a few photos of the food and water brought by Coalition for Justice protestors as well as a few other photos of the scene. The media was also staged outside and taking video of the scene.
I went over to my friend who I coincidentally was released with and we decided to start walking back to my car. We took a turn and went under the County Jail which has a roadway underneath it. I stopped at a police van and took a photo of my citation on the windshield and announced that I had been set free after nearly 24 hours of being in police custody.
— VDC Photo News (@VDCphotoNEWS) December 20, 2014
We continued walking and decided to stop at a corner store. I purchased cigarettes with a lighter and my friend purchased a Mountain Dew. We then spent most of the time walking and playing with notifications on our phone on the way way back to the car. I was parked near Red Arrow Park which was a 1 mile walk.
quotes this as only taking 5 minutes, but I’m positive it took more time than that.
As we approached where I believed the car was parked, I ran forward a little big and started yelling in joy to see that it hadn’t been towed. I was so happy to see my car and feel that I was truly free. I took my friend home and then after a round with social media and texting a few friends I called it a night around 9PM. I had learned that 73 adults and 1 minor had been arrested.
73 adults, 1 minor arrested by MCSO and MPD for blocking traffic on I43. We will use all resources available to maintain law and order.
— Milwaukee Sheriff (@MCSOSheriff) December 20, 2014
I woke up to see a few more comments and messages on my release. For the majority, people have been positive about my arrest though some have been negative which it to be expected. There was even a small #FreeAbe hashtag which made me laugh. One of the messages I received was from my friend who I was released with. It was my mugshot so I posted it for my friends to see on Facebook. The photo is from a website named Jailbase .
Clearly this is not my best photo, thought considering it was photographed with 3 track lights aimed from the ceiling, it could have been worse. Now begins the conversations and help from friends who know different lawyers. I appreciate all of their help and plan to move forward.
I do not blame police for arresting me initially. They were just doing their job and clearing the freeway however I had notified them multiple times that I was a member of the media and would like to speak with the NPPA lawyer. I came to find out today via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Journal Sentinel reporter Jesse Garza was among those arrested Friday night after he followed the protesters about a quarter-mile onto the freeway at Fond du Lac Ave. He was released after about two hours and not cited.” This is frustrating to say the least.
At this point I plan to reach out the the NPPA and seek legal counsel from them. I believe it has been demonstrated multiple times in court that it is not illegal to for journalists to stand in places that are illegal for others to stand in regarding a breaking news situation. A fellow journalist confirmed this with a comment on one of my Facebook posts and I will be asking any legal representation to look into this.
I was a photojournalist covering breaking news and was arrested. I was given two citations totaling $662.80 and marks on my permanent record. Like the Journal Sentinel reporter, I will be seeking that this incident is wiped clear and the citations removed.
My name is Abe Van Dyke. This was my story.
You can see a select amount of 25 photos from this incident at my Demotix profile or head over to for the entire gallery.