Man who took guns to Wisconsin Capitol while seeking governor says he wanted to talk, not harm

By SCOTT BAUER Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The armed man who twice went to the Wisconsin state Capitol looking for Gov. Tony Evers said Monday that he had no intention of hurting anyone, has moved out of state, and does not want to go anywhere near the governor.

Joshua Pleasnick went to the Capitol on Oct. 4, with a loaded handgun in a holster, demanding to speak with Evers. The governor was not in the building at the time.

Pleasnick was arrested and after posting bail he returned that night to the Capitol with a semi-automatic rifle and a baton hidden in his backpack. He again demanded to talk to Evers but the building was closed and he was arrested again.

Pleasnick was charged with a misdemeanor for openly carrying a gun in a public building. He was released on bond on Friday.

Pleasnick on Monday, in a telephone interview, said he has moved to Nebraska to live with family because the incident in Wisconsin made him unemployable, he’s homeless, has no money and his “reputation was completely ruined by the media.”

“The media portrayed me as some sort of psychotic white supremacist, which is the furthest from the truth, because I used to manufacture firearms for a living and the only people I never sold to were Nazis,” Pleasnick said. “The media had painted me out to be a monster rather than someone who was actually fighting for justice and for peace.”

Pleasnick insisted that his intention that day was to make his case to the governor about why he believed men aren’t taken seriously when seeking protection orders against women. Pleasnick said he thought it was legal to openly carry a weapon in a public building.

“As I told arresting officers, I would gladly accept my punishment because ignorance of the law is not an excuse,” Pleasnick said.

Pleasnick said he came back that night with the rifle because he wanted to draw attention to the issue of domestic abuse against men.

“I was very serious about being heard about this issue because I have so many friends that are males that have been abused by women and they have been arrested even though the women hit them instead of the other way around,” Pleasnick said.

Pleasnick, 43, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of openly carrying a gun in a public building. Under the terms of his release, he was barred from coming near Evers, the Capitol building or the governor’s residence in nearby Maple Bluff.

When asked if he planned to follow the terms of his release barring his coming to the Capitol or near the governor, Pleasnick said, “Abso-(expletive)-lutely.”

“I’m staying away from the governor,” Pleasnick said. “I’m staying away from him. I’m restricted from the area around the Capitol. Obviously, I’m in Nebraska, so walking around the Capitol is going to be a little difficult because it’s over 500 miles (800 kilometers) away.”