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Council, Mayor move to deny MPD additional tear gas equipment for DNC

Posted at 10:29 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 23:30:59-04

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee Police Department request for a bid for tear gas and tactical equipment was canceled by the Common Council and the Mayor.

The purchase requests came up in front of the Finance and Personnel committee Wednesday when the city’s Purchasing Director was in front go them discussing her re-appointment.

Alderman Nik Kovac brought the issue into the meeting after hearing from several constituents that opposed the purchase.
Kovac pointed to last week's controversial use of tear gas on demonstrators near 6th in McKinely in Downtown Milwaukee.

“It was certainly used extremely inappropriately by the police last week, and if I can prevent them from acquiring more of this stuff I would like to” said Kovac.

City Purchasing Director Rhonda Kelsey said the purchase was related to the Democratic National Convention and added that it could be removed by Mayor Tom Barrett. Kovac agreed the purchase request should be pulled.

“I feel confident a strong majority of the common council does not think that tear gas or chemical weapons are an appropriate way to respond to peaceful protests. Mayor Barrett supported the decision to remove the request and by the end of the day, it was no longer listed on the city’s website for bid requests.

The Milwaukee Police Department released a statement saying in part, “...key safety equipment necessary for the Democratic National Convention has been removed by the Purchasing Department due to pressures by members of the Common Council without any input from the Secret Service, Milwaukee Police Department, or any other law enforcement agency.”

The department added they would like the request to be reconsidered by the council and the Mayor’s office.

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