For the Last Eight Years, the Milwaukee Police Department Has Subjected Tens of Thousands of Innocent People to Unconstitutional Stops and Frisks, Disrupting Their Daily Lives Because They Are Black or Latino
MILWAUKEE — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and the law firm of Covington & Burling filed a class-action lawsuit today against the city of Milwaukee over its police department’s vast stop-and-frisk program.
The department targets tens of thousands of people without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, the legal requirement for a police stop, making the program unconstitutional, the lawsuit says. The department’s repeated violations of Milwaukeeans’ constitutional rights are driven by racial profiling, with preliminary data showing significant disparities between police stop rates for white people and for Black and Latino people.
“For the last decade, the Milwaukee Police Department has pursued an aggressive and unconstitutional policing strategy that treats people of color as suspects for no good reason, stopping innocent men, women, and children as they try to go about their daily lives,” said Jason Williamson, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project. “This approach forces tens of thousands to live under suspicion every time they step outside.”
Charles Collins, one of the lawsuit’s six plaintiffs and the target of a police stop without reasonable suspicion, is a Black military veteran who has lived in Milwaukee for 55 years. “If I’m going out, I’m always looking over my shoulder even though I’ve done nothing wrong,” said Mr. Collins.
Between 2007 and 2015, the Milwaukee Police Department almost tripled their traffic and pedestrian stops, from around 66,000 to around 196,000, following the launch of the unlawful stop-and-frisk program in 2008.
“The Milwaukee Police Department has prioritized widespread, unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices over its relationship with communities of color in this city,” said Karyn Rotker, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Wisconsin. “By routinely stopping thousands of people who have done nothing wrong, the department has undermined its relationship with Milwaukee residents and created a profound lack of trust in those communities—which compromises the department’s ability to investigate crimes.”
In 2011, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that Milwaukee police were seven times more likely to stop Black drivers than white drivers, and five times more likely to stop Hispanic drivers than white drivers. According to the ACLU’s preliminary analysis of records from a Milwaukee police database on stops, Black (non-Hispanic) people were the targets of 72 percent of stops from 2010 through 2012 when they made up 34 percent of the city’s population.
The department conducts far more stops and frisks in the parts of Milwaukee that are predominantly Black or Latino than in other areas.
“The department’s own records raise a red flag that unlawful stop-and-frisk in Milwaukee is a dragnet that results in racial profiling,” said Nusrat Choudhury, senior staff attorney of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “But the city can keep all communities safe without trampling on people’s rights. In New York City, crime rates continued to fall even after a similar program was ended following a federal court ruling that it violated the law.”
The lawsuit filed today seeks reforms that safeguard constitutional rights by promoting bias-free and evidence-based policing, transparency, and police accountability. These reforms include an end to the Milwaukee Police Department’s practice of conducting stops and frisks without reasonable suspicion, as well as its practice of stopping people based on their race or ethnicity. The lawsuit also seeks improved training, supervision, and monitoring of officers who conduct stops and frisks, and the collection and semiannual release to the public of data on all stops and frisks to permit further analysis for evidence of constitutional violations.
For the complaint and more information about the lawsuit:
ACLU of Wisconsin:
Landlord allegedly knew widespread illegal activities were taking place
The City of Milwaukee has filed a lawsuit seeking the closure and sale of 12 near south side rental properties that have been linked to widespread criminal activities, including drug sales and prostitution.
Alderman Bob Donovan and Alderman José G. Pérez – whose aldermanic districts are home to all 12 of the properties owned by defendant Kenneth D. Churchill III of West Allis – said the properties have been a source of numerous complaints about criminal activities for years.
“It is alleged that Mr. Churchill would take extra cash payments from tenants, to look the other way, if they were selling drugs (at a property),” Alderman Donovan said. “Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that he (Churchill) may be actively involved in the drug activity at the properties.”
“Ruining neighborhoods was apparently all a part of Mr. Churchill’s ‘business plan’ in running his rental properties,” said Alderman Donovan, chair of the Public Safety Committee. “It is absolutely unconscionable.”
Alderman Pérez, a member of the Public Safety Committee, said the lawsuit was brought forward because of numerous constituent complaints about drug and prostitution activity occurring at the properties, as well as Milwaukee Police Department and Department of Neighborhood Services investigations.
“The lawsuit alleges that at least five, if not more, individuals have been linked to drug and prostitution activity at more than one of Mr. Churchill’s rental properties, and that the properties have received 11 drug house designations since 2011,” Alderman Pérez said.
Alderman Pérez and Alderman Donovan said complaints from neighbors played a large part in helping investigators looking into the allegations attributed to the properties owned by Mr. Churchill. They said the case is a prime example of citizens coming forward and then being taken seriously by police and by investigators, and clear evidence that neighbors and the community have the power to fight back – and take back – their block and their neighborhood.
The lawsuit, filed by City Attorney Grant F. Langley yesterday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, alleges that Mr. Churchill’s mismanagement of the properties interferes substantially with the comfortable enjoyment of life, health and safety of others in the neighborhood and the City. The suit alleges Mr. Churchill’s mismanagement of the properties has also contributed to crime, fear and disorder in the neighborhood and the city, as well as negatively impacted the neighboring property values and impeded lawful business operations in the area.
Last week, I was proud to co-sponsor a resolution in front of the Milwaukee Common Council opposed to the unconstitutional travel ban executed by President Donald Trump.
It is openness, inclusion, the melting pot culture, our diversity as a nation, and the potential that is unlocked when everybody has a fair shot and fair chance no matter where you come from, what color your skin is, what language you speak or what religion you practice–that is what makes America great.
The reckless action by President Trump threatens to damage and destroy the fabric of diversity that our country was built upon.
I’m proud to have joined with 12 of my colleagues in supporting this measure and was honored to be there when Mayor Barrett signed the resolution into law.
As an Alderman, I will continue standing up for what is right and just at all odds.
Alderman Cavalier “Chevy” Johnson
Prestigious awards to honor African American males, BMA Awards, hold in Milwaukee
on the 23rd February
The 2017 edition of the Black Men Achieve Awards, popularly known as the BMA Awards holds in City Hall Rotunda, Milwaukee, on the 23rd of February, 2017. The award ceremony is organized to recognize the immense contributions and achievements of Black American Males.
The awards establishes the fact that Black Men Matter, as it highlights the different black men leading in their various fields and careers. Targeted to honor local leaders and inspire young people to strive towards making the community, particularly the black community a better one, the awards goal is to reiterate the need to create a positive brand around the black men in America.
The achievements of black men are looked at in retrospect, with a focus on how such actions could affect the future of the black community in the United States. The award does not only look at the achievements and contributions of African Americans in the past, but also examines their contributions in the present and the future.
The celebration will be in the honor of the Late and influential Eric Von, if you want to know what Black Male Achievement looks like, join us as we honor leaders such as Andre Lee Ellis, Victor Barnett, and Dr. Carter just to name a few. 20 African American males who are active agents of change in our community will be highlighted with different awards at the city hall in Milwaukee, with the event slated to commence at 6pm. In addition to celebrating these twenty African American achievers, young African American males between the ages of 12 and 18 are also inspired to achieve even more as they attend the event and witness their older counterparts get rewarded for their contributions.
Entry into the venue of the awards is free, even as interested persons are required to register at https://bmaaward.eventbrite.com to ensure orderliness and adequate preparation for expected attendees. Suggested donations of $10 are also welcomed from well-wishers and friends of the BMA award to help organizers of the awards create an even bigger platform to recognize African American achievers.
New grocery store set to open in spring 2017
Pete’s Fruit Market, a family-owned store that will soon open a new location at Bronzeville’s busy “front door” at N. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. and W. North Ave., will hold a job informational session from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 9 at the YWCA, 1915 N. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr., Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs said today.
“Thursday’s informational session is for anyone interested in possibly working at the new Pete’s grocery store,” Alderwoman Coggs said. “This is a prime opportunity to meet with store managers, so attendees should bring their resumes and be prepared for brief interviews.”
Pete’s Fruit Market is a full-service grocery store known for many years by customers on the near south side. Thursday’s job event is listing possible positions that will be open at the new store, including cashiers, stockers, maintenance, meat clerks, and customer service.
Alderwoman Coggs and the community had been firm in pushing back efforts in recent years to open a dollar store at the location, instead repeatedly seeking a grocery store selling healthy foods and fresh produce items.
The Pete’s store will fill approximately 13,700 square feet of space at the site of the former Walgreen’s at the northwest corner of King Drive and North Avenue. The store will be located in the heart of the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District.
The developer – Vangard Group – is a Milwaukee owned firm with experience in successful projects in Bronzeville. The general contractor is JCP Construction – also a locally owned and operated company.
By Barbara Reynolds
Kathy’s House is a nonprofit hospital guest house that provides affordable lodging and caring support in a “home away from home” environment for people who need to travel to Milwaukee for medical care. Open 365 days a year, it is the only such facility in southeastern Wisconsin that serves patients of all ages and their families and caregivers. Annually, Kathy’s House serves approximately 1,400 guests; roughly half are patients and half are family members. Most are cancer patients and more than 60 percent live in Wisconsin. Kathy’s House was founded in 2001 by the parents of Kathy Vogel Kuettner, a Milwaukee cancer patient who had deep empathy for fellow patients who traveled to the city for care and faced illness without the support of nearby family and friends. Kathy died in 2000 but her wish to help others lives on. For more information, visit www.kathys-house.org.About Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin regional health network is a partnership between Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin. It comprises eastern Wisconsin’s only academic medical center, Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee; and Community Memorial Hospital, Menomonee Falls, and St. Joseph’s Hospital, West Bend. The health network includes more than 2,000 physicians across 25 primary and speciality clinical locations, representing the collaboration of Wisconsin’s largest multispecialty physician practice with a community-based physician group. The network’s three hospitals have 781 staffed beds, nearly 40,000 annual admissions and more than 900,000 annual outpatient visits. Froedtert & MCW network physicians have more than 700,000 annual patient visits at its health centers and clinics. For more information, visit froedtert.com