Online petitions call for punishment, praise of Green Bay police officer

Media experts say online petitions have both pros and cons, when it comes to bringing about change.
Media experts say online petitions have both pros and cons, when it comes to bringing about change.

GREEN BAY – Media experts say online petitions have a lot of benefits and drawbacks when it comes to getting change to happen.

The cell phone video of a Green Bay officer taking down and arresting a man outside a bar nearly two weeks ago is still a topic of debate. Much of that debate is taking place online.

Two online petitions FOX 11 found call for the officer, Derek Wicklund, to be congratulated or supported for his actions.

He took down and arrested 29-year-old Joshua Wenzel for allegedly resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

But others have a different view.

Two other petitions FOX 11 found look to suspend and charge Wicklund, or for him to be removed from the department altogether. The latter petition has more than 27,000 signatures – some coming from other states and countries.

Green Bay police are conducting an investigation into the incident. The state's department of justice will then review it.

FOX 11 called Green Bay Police Chief Tom Molitor and police union president Ryan Meader for comment and have not yet heard back.

Media and communications experts say there are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to online petitions.

"The pro of these sites is they tend to get people engaged. Perhaps, people that wouldn't be engaged in any other way, in real world so-to-speak means of political participation, but because they're on their computers they're more likely to see these things and participate,” said Mark Glantz, a professor of communication and media studies at St. Norbert College.
β€œThe con would be, perhaps it's a less meaningful mode of political participation."

As for what happens because of the online petition signatures, Glantz says that depends on how far the petition creator wishes to take their issue, and if the petition targets respond.