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Milwaukee Police Chief answers first FPC directive: why tear gas was used against protesters

Posted at 10:35 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 23:35:31-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales answers the first directive laid out to him by the Fire and Police Commission. The commissioners ordered the chief to submit a public accounting as to why tear gas and pepper spray were used on protesters or face punishment. Tuesday, the chief released a 20-minute video on the Milwaukee Police Department’s YouTube page.

chief Morales
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales answers the first directive to the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission in a video.

“Over the course of several months there have been at least 100 protests that have occurred within the City of Milwaukee. There have been six instances have had to use a chemical agent such as oleoresin capsicum spray to disperse an unruly crowd,” said Morales.

The first directive stated: “full, public, and accurate explanation of the use of tear gas and large volumes of oleoresin capsicum spray during peaceful civil disturbances.” The chief’s answer was a crowd cannot be a peaceful civil disturbance because by the FPC’s own definition a civil disturbance is not peaceful, but deemed illegal.

civil disturbance definition
Chief Morales cites the definition that the Fire and Police Commission gave for civil disturbances as to why they cannot also be classified as peaceful.

Assistant Chief Michael Brunson then took over the presentation and went on to answer about all six of the incidents where tear gas, pepper spray, or other chemical irritants was used. Brunson said 4 incidents involved disturbances outside police districts.

“There were bricks, bottles and fireworks throw at officers. There were shots fired across the street,” said Brunson.

However, the protest that continues to come under question, an incident at 6th and McKinley on June 2nd. The Milwaukee Common Council previously questioned the police as to why tear gas was used on the crowd.

Milwaukee protests Milwaukee police smoke and gas
Protestors and Milwaukee Police clash at the corner of 6th St. and McKinley Ave. on June 2, 2020. Milwaukee Police fired canisters of smoke and gas at the crowd.

“We had citizens that were striking squad cars, throwing rocks bottles and asphalt. One subject was seen urinating in an empty water bottle,” said Brunson.

After each incident was explained, the police gave similar answers as to why chemicals were used in these protests.

“Oleoresin capsicum CS gas was deployed in order to cause citizens to disperse. In order to bring a level of safety to the area,” said Brunson.

Now that Morales has answered it will be up to the Fire and Police Commissioners to decide if this fulfills their directive. He still has 10 other directives to fulfill as well.

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