Talk about taking your chemical irritants and going home.
On Monday night, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a pretty incredible story entitled “Police departments begin to withdraw from security agreements for 2020 DNC, some citing directive on crowd munitions.” Written by reporters Bill Glauber, Ashley Luthern, and Mary Spicuzza, the piece explains how “at least three Wisconsin police departments have withdrawn from agreements to send personnel to next month’s Democratic National Convention, some of them citing orders to Milwaukee’s police chief to cease the use of tear gas and pepper spray during demonstrations.”
Yep, you read that right. According to the article, if cops from Fond du Lac, Franklin, West Allis, and probably Waukesha can’t come to Milwaukee during the DNC and maybe shoot protestors with tear gas and pepper spray, well, they ain’t coming.
You see, roughly 1,000 police officers are supposed to come to Milwaukee and help out with security during the (vastly downsized) DNC in August. Last week, however, Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission slapped embattled Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales with some pretty specific demands, including “amending the proper SOP(s) to discontinue the use of chemicals” like “tear gas and large volumes of oleoresin capsicum spray.” And that ain’t sitting well with police in Fondle Sack Fond du Lac, ‘Stallis West Allis, and Franklin.
“It is apparent there is a lack of commitment to provide the Milwaukee Police Department with the resources it needs to ensure the safety of peaceful protesters, attendees, citizens and police personnel,” Franklin Police Chief Rick Oliva wrote in a letter to Milwaukee officials last week. “I can not send personnel if they are not properly equipped or will not be allowed to engage in appropriate actions which would ensure their safety.”
West Allis Deputy Chief Robert Fletcher echoed Oliva’s position, telling the Journal Sentinel, “Our concern is that in the event protests turn non-peaceful, such a policy would remove tools from officers that may otherwise be legal and justifiable to utilize in specific situations.”
Fond du Lac Police Chief William Lamb told the Journal Sentinel essentially the same thing, saying, “We believe in removing those tools, the use of chemical irritants or pepper spray, from the available resources that the law enforcement officers would have at their disposal if protests become non-peaceful would severely compromise the safety of the public and also the safety of the law enforcement officers who would be assigned to protect the DNC.”
And oh yeah, Waukesha is probably pulling its officers, too.
Last week, Milwaukee’s Public Works Committee approved a substitute ordinance identifying items that will be prohibited for citizens to carry in the DNC’s security footprint. After some discussion, gas masks were removed from the list.
Back in June, the Milwaukee Police Department extolled the “life-preserving” virtues of tear gas and rubber bullets.
Anyway, read the entire story at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And if you can’t read it because it’s behind a paywall, subscribe to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and support local reporting.