WAUKESHA. Wis. – A 42-year-old woman who describes herself as a Wiccan faces charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after neighbors complained she was disturbing them with chants around a bonfire she had built 10 feet from her home.
Capt. Mike Babe said Brenna K. Barney of Waukesha told police they were infringing on her religious beliefs since she was performing a ritual under the new moon.
But Babe said that, in addition to the criminal charges filed Tuesday in Waukesha County Circuit Court, police might also give Barney a ticket alleging negligent handling of burning materials.
Neighbors called police shortly after midnight Tuesday and, after an officer arrived, he heard the woman yelling in the backyard and found her wearing headphones, a T-shirt and underwear, the captain said.
An officer tried to get her attention by shining a flashlight on her but she continued yelling her chants, Babe said.
He said Barney at one point poured lighter fluid on the fire, in which she was burning rubber car mats and a cooler. Barney refused to cooperate with police and was belligerent, and her breath smelled of alcohol, Babe added
Four officers were sent to the scene and arrested her, the captain added.
Wicca is a nature-based religion based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons.