(The following is one in a series of posts looking at the players; political, media, or activist, who were prominent in the 2011-12 Wisconsin Recalls. Monday is the 5th anniversary of the failed effort to recall Governor Scott Walker in the wake of Act 10.)
When it came to protesting Act 10, Governor Scott Walker, and legislative Republicans, few activists could be seen as the face of the protests like Jeremy Ryan; better known to the world as “Segway Boy” or “Segway Jeremy.”
Ryan, who claims he needs to Segway because he suffers from the rare genetic heart ailment known as Andersen-Tawil syndrome, soon became a fixture during the Capitol chaos. But as the protests wore on, he gradually went from activist to professional protester to all-around annoyance.
Ryan believed he could essentially become a full-time professional protester, going so far as establishing his own political action committee “Defending Wisconsin,” which financed trips to Washington, D.C. and other conventions. Largely seen as a scam, even by Wisconsin liberals, the organization folded shortly after the recalls concluded. But Ryan’s antics were far from over.
In July 2012, weeks after the recalls, Ryan went after the members of the capitol press corps. His lowest-point was when he sang taunts at Gwen Guenther, who had just taken over “The Wheeler Report,” a widely-read news aggregate for Madison insiders after the passing of her father, Dick Wheeler.
According to a police report, on July 9 of this year, Ryan stood outside the capitol press room — now named the Dick Wheeler press room by legislative action — and mocked Guenther over the death of her father. Ryan sang “Wheeler is dead” over and over in a baritone voice until other reporters in the room called the police on him. (The report notes that when Guenther gave her statement to the police, she was very upset and had been crying.)
Proud of his accomplishment, Ryan has posted an edited video of himself singing “Wheeler is dead” outside the press-room door. The harassment from Ryan got so bad, Guenther eventually had to lease office space outside the capitol, meaning protesters had driven her from the press room named for her own father.
In late 2012, Ryan made an independent run for the state assembly in District 76, a seat now held by Madison Democrat Christine Taylor. However, he never was actually on the official ballot according to the Government Accountability Board.
In 2013, Ryan entered a plea bargain agreement with the Dane County District Attorney’s office for charges related to disorderly conduct, stolen property, and three other misdemeanors. He was given probation.
Not yet done with politics, in 2014 Ryan mounted a primary challenge to U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (R-Janesville). His entire campaign strategy: Confuse people because they share last names.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s primary challenger this time around is unusual, even for a long-shot candidate. His last name is also Ryan — something he hopes will help him on election day, and he’s haunted the Wisconsin state legislature as he rides around on his Segway during singing protests.
Meet “Segway” Jeremy Ryan, an eccentric activist renowned in Wisconsin for mainly two things: citations for public disruptions and moving around virtually only on a Segway. Ryan, 25, filed to run in the Republican primary against Rep. Ryan.
To the surprise of no one, Jeremy Ryan was defeated soundly by Paul Ryan.
But he wasn’t done making headlines in 2014. In mid-October, Jeremy Ryan was criminally charged with stalking and domestic abuse against his then live-in girlfriend.
According to the complaint, Ryan repeatedly harassed his girlfriend and her boss demanding to know the whereabouts and actions of his girlfriend. After locking his girlfriend out of the apartment that they lease together, the girlfriend contacted police. Before law enforcement arrived, an altercation between the girlfriend and Ryan commenced in which Ryan attempted to forcibly take her cell phone and then proceeded to chase her around the apartment.
In 2015, Ryan shifted causes and became an outspoken supporter of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This was also the year he claimed to have started a car-window tinting business with his roommate, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. It was not however, the end of his run-ins with the law.
2016 had Madison police place a “safety alert” on Ryan’s residence stating the location posed “some type of threat to law enforcement.” Meanwhile in November 2016, Ryan was arrested “on three felony counts of manufacturing and delivering marijuana and one felony count of maintaining a drug operation.”
Most recently, according to his own Facebook page, Ryan touted the purchase of a “personal limo” and tells his followers to “Never go to Gary Indiana.”
Whatever happened to Jeremy Ryan? What hasn’t?