Two Women Charged in Attack on Wisconsin State Senator

Tim Carpenter said he was punched and kicked after he recorded video of demonstrators at a protest in the capital, Madison, last month.

Two women were arrested and accused of beating a state senator who had been recording video of protesters last month, during a night of intensifying violence in Madison, Wis., the authorities said.

The senator, Tim Carpenter, a Democrat who represents areas in Milwaukee, said on June 24 that he was punched and kicked in the head after he took a cellphone video of protesters who had been marching through downtown Madison for several hours to protest police violence and racism.

On Monday, after the Madison Police Department released surveillance images of two women it described as persons of interest, the police said the women, Samantha R. Hamer, 26, and Kerida E. O’Reilly, 33, turned themselves in.

Both women face charges of battery and robbery, the police said. They were being held on those charges in a Dane County jail, inmate records showed on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear whether they had lawyers.

Ms. Hamer was put on administrative leave from her job as a social worker for the Mount Horeb School District in suburban Madison, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Ms. O’Reilly is a licensed physical therapist in Madison, the newspaper reported.

Mr. Carpenter was assaulted just after midnight on June 24 during demonstrations in the city protesting police violence against Black people in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in police custody, in May.

The state senator posted his video of the incident on Twitter in the hours after it took place. As he records a line of demonstrators on a street, the video shows, two women break away from the group and run toward him. “Leave my phone alone,” he can be heard saying. “Delete it,” one of the women replies. Then the recording goes dark.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Carpenter said he had gone to the Capitol to do some work when he noticed that one of the city’s statues had been pulled down. There were “roving bands” of protesters, some peaceful and some “rioting,” he said.

He parked his car, and noticed a line of demonstrators pausing in a march. Other people were standing around watching them, too.

Mr. Carpenter said he had participated in protests for years, in Wisconsin and in Washington, many in support of gay rights. “I got out of my car, just curious,” he said. He decided after a few minutes to record the demonstrators.

There was movement in the crowd, and then the two women, and possibly a third person, moved toward him. He said there was “no warning whatsoever” that he would be attacked.

“One of the two put her hand over the camera and pushed me back, and then the phone was knocked out of my hand,” he said. “That precipitated it. All of a sudden there were eight to 10 people, kicking and punching and doing all sorts of things.”

“I tried telling them, ‘Why are you doing this? I am an ally of yours,’” he said. “I am gay, I have been in the legislature for 36 years. That is when the beating kind of slowed down a bit.”

He said he was treated on the scene for a concussion, a broken nose and bruises by ambulance medics and then later by a family doctor.

There had been protests in Madison for weeks, alongside those across the United States after Mr. Floyd’s death. But on the night that Mr. Carpenter was assaulted, the tenor of the marches had intensified after the arrest of a Black activist, identified as Devonere A. Johnson, 28, at a restaurant near the Capitol. Video of that arrest shows officers pulling Mr. Johnson by the legs and carrying his body to force him into a police car.

On July 8, Mr. Johnson was indicted on federal extortion charges and accused of threatening to destroy a business unless it paid him, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Wisconsin said. Prosecutors also accused Mr. Johnson of threatening another business unless he and “his associates were provided free food and beverages.”

A lawyer listed for Mr. Johnson on court records was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

The mayor of Madison, Satya Rhodes-Conway, has described the flare-up of violence the night of Mr. Carpenter’s assault as “far from the peaceful protests” the city had seen on previous nights. “The behaviors we saw were incredibly dangerous and intolerable — putting people’s lives at risk,” she said in a statement last month.

She said people were pulled out of cars. Some protesters tried to set fire to a building with dozens of people inside, used vehicles to push through crowds, or tossed firebombs, the mayor said.

Protesters also toppled two statues: one of a 19th-century abolitionist, Hans Christian Heg, and another of the “Forward” figure, an allegorical work meant to embody the state’s motto.

But mentioning Mr. Johnson’s arrest, the mayor also added, “I recognize that we need better options to de-escalate situations and offer restorative justice in our community.”


News – Two Women Charged in Attack on Wisconsin State Senator

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