Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Activist faces charges after scuffle with police

Activist faces charges after scuffle with police
By Sandra Armbruster
Eccentric Staff Writer

A Rochester Hills Democrat claims that his arrest Monday at a meeting of the Troy-Clawson Republican Forum was politically motivated.

“I did nothing wrong. I will be vindicated,” said Bruce Fealk.

Fealk faces three charges of assaulting a police officer, trespassing, and hindering and resisting arrest. All are misdemeanors punishable by a 90-day sentence, if convicted.

Fealk’s attorney, Paul Stevenson, said Fealk will have to make a court appearance in the case by March 12.

Troy Police confirmed the incident happened, but would not name Fealk as the person arrested, since he was allowed to post a bond and not face an arraignment on what are disorderly conduct charges.

The arrest at the Troy Community Center came after Fealk tried to videotape a forum meeting that featured a panel discussion on Black History Month and civil rights.

Lt. Gerry Scherlinck said a forum “representative told him that it (videotaping) was not allowed. He refused to stop, leave.”

At that point, the community center manager was summoned by forum organizers, who reportedly told Fealk that he would have to stop or leave the building.
Police were called, Scherlinck said, who reiterated that he would have to stop videotaping.

“He refuses, and there was a struggle between him and a police officer,” according to Scherlinck.

Stevenson said that incidents, such as Fealk’s, are sometimes used “to try to criminalise political activity and political speech.” In this case, he said, the city attorney may deem the incident doesn’t merit the “time and taxpayer’s dollars” to pursue.

A political activist, Fealk has actively campaigned against Republican Congressman Joe Knollenberg from Bloomfield Township.

According to 9th District Republican Committee Chairman Glenn Clark, Fealk has a record of harassing local elected officials, which prompted forum organizers to call the authorities.

In a Rochester Hills parade, Fealk wore a papier mache head of Knollenberg. He also has demonstrated in front of Knollenberg’s house.

“Mr. Fealk is a radical political activist who knows no boundaries,” Clark said in an e-mail.

Clark says that Fealk is raising funds and campaigning for Democrat Gary Peters, who is challenging Knollenberg for the 9th U.S. House seat. He also called for Peters to say whether he is “with Fealk or against him.”

“I support him (Peters), but I’m not working for him,” Fealk said. He later said that Clark “was technically right, I have raised money for him...But as a citizen, I’m not connected with him.”

The incident was “totally unfair and totally political,” he said, adding that he has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. | (248) 901-2585

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