MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission demanded answers Thursday on why smoke and tear gas were used on protesters during civil unrest.
The demonstrations started in Milwaukee May 30th following the death of George Floyd. He died in Minnesota Police custody when an officer kneeled on his neck. His death has sparked nationwide protests over police use of force.
In Milwaukee, the commission that oversees the police questioned when it was appropriate to deploy smoke and gas on protesters. Milwaukee Police said even though protesters saw canisters deployed, it was usually smoke.
“CS gas is generally used as the last type of less-lethal force we use. Most of the time we use smoke, and it is just smoke. It is sprayed smoke,” said Deputy Chief Michael Brunson. “Tear gas in many cases is used once it gets to the level of when they are attacking officers.”
Milwaukee Police said overall 12 officers were injured, including one who was shot during the protests. Five police vehicles were struck with gunfire.
MPD claims smoke is disorienting, but not an irritant to the body and eyes like CS gas. According to Chief Alfonso Morales, there were four incidents when smoke was used. Three of those times were when District 5 was what they considered 'under siege.'
Chief Morales was not clear on whether tear gas was used during the daytime protests at 6th St. and McKinley Ave. That particular protest has had the Fire and Police Commissioners asking questions.
“I would like to see all the cameras, the body cams, the web cameras. So that we would know if it is smoke like you say or CS,” said Commissioner Everett Cocroft.
Milwaukee Police say all the incidents where smoke, gas or rubber bullets were used will be under examination by a use of force review.