How to make Milwaukee even worse

Vicki McKenna passes on this from retired Milwaukee police detective Steve Spingola:

Metropolitan Milwaukee is a land of makers and doers. At 5:30 a.m., the local interstate freeways are crowded with commuters en route to manufacture, construct, package and ship things. Southeastern Wisconsin is not Madison, Berkeley, Portland or Seattle; yet, anti-police activists have made inroads by bullying, intimidating or taking control of municipal common councils and police civilian review boards. Now, the mob is coming for two exemplary minority law enforcement professionals for simply doing their jobs.

Milwaukee Police Chief Al Morales is the idyllic leader of a big city police department. A life-long resident of Milwaukee, Morales rose through the ranks, making his mark as a homicide detective in one of the most dangerous cities in America. In 2002, a 20-year-old criminal defendant, just found guilty of homicide by a jury, disarmed a bailiff of a firearm in open court. Morales, who chaired the trial with an assistant district attorney, shot and killed the man in what he described as “an out of body experience.”

The major reason Chief Morales is so well respected by the officers he commands is his courage under fire. The son of Mexican immigrants, he has walked-the-walk. In Milwaukee, Al Morales is the one person standing in the way of the mob. Mayor Tom Barrett and leadership are an oxymoron. The Milwaukee Common Council, once a bastion of police support, has come to view the city’s criminal element as an emerging political constituency.

In early June, when a group of protestors attempted to walk onto the high-rise Hoan Bridge, also known as Interstate 794, during rush hour, non-peaceful protestors scuffled with officers. Milwaukee police deployed tear gas to disburse the unlawful assembly. Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, a man who has no law enforcement training, ripped Morales and the MPD’s Major Incident Response Team. In comments to the media, Hamilton said police should consider the motivations of protestors and, then, ignore the laws the so-called peaceful protestors driving on sidewalks, urinating on homes, throwing objects at police, and detonating fireworks, are trampling.

Morales, vis-a-vis his assistant chief, Michael Brunson, took issue with the Common Council’s depiction of events. “We have had five police vehicles struck by gunfire,” Brunson noted, and “forty-three business were looted on the first day alone.”

It was, however, when Chief Morales crossed the politically incorrect Rubicon that his job was suddenly in jeopardy. The day after the Hoan Bridge incident, Morales compared the physical and verbal attacks on his officers to the death of Christ. “Two thousand years ago, an angry mob came before people and said crucify that man…Law enforcement throughout our nation, law enforcement is being crucified.”

The references to God and service became too much for some on the secular progressive left. Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission soon issued a list of eleven directives to Morales. If these edicts are not fulfilled, Morales could be removed for insubordination. One of the directives demands Milwaukee police no longer use chemical irritants against protests of any kind. This directive caused several law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin to rescind an offer to provide officers for the mid-August Democratic National Convention.

Ironically, Morales isn’t the only minority officer under fire from those demanding racial justice. Wauwatosa — a suburb just to the west of Milwaukee — has a police department considered the gold standard in Wisconsin. One of the department’s officers, Joseph Mensah, has shot and killed three people of color in the last five years.

The first two shootings were ruled justifiable by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office, as well as the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. In the third shooting, which occurred February, a 17-year-0ld at a shopping mall pointed a gun with a thirty-one round magazine at an officer and discharged a round. Officer Mensah returned fire and killed the shooter. The incident was captured on officers’ body cameras. Yet five months have passed without the district attorney’s office doing what a fifth-grader could do: watch the video and find the shooting justifiable.

And now the mob is coming to crucify Mensah. In mid-July, the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission (PFC) suspended Mensah, even though Chief Barry Weber has not filed a single complaint against the officer. Officer Mensah has stated publicly that anti-police agitators have listed the addresses of his family and friends on the Web, and protestors have gathered outside the homes of PFC members.

Even more troubling is the Milwaukee media’s coverage of Mensah, which, on only one occasion prior to Officer Mensah’s suspension, noted that the officer himself is African-American. The anti-police journalists in the local media apparently saw no value in this critical detail. To the mob and its supporters, the narrative of a rogue officer on the lookout to shoot people of color was too powerful to undermine.

Fortunately, Officer Mensah is fighting back. As of this writing, supporters at his GoFundMe page have raised nearly $70,000 for his ensuing legal battle. And Chief Al Morales isn’t going down without a fight, either. Yet, if the mob can bully, threaten and intimidate in a metropolitan area of the makers and doers — the kind of people that make America tick – they will be empowered to use the same tactics across the country.

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