Sheriff, county executive face off in Sherman Park fence dispute

Chief judge has called a special session
Posted at 7:47 AM, Sep 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-04 22:03:41-04
MILWAUKEE -- A temporary fence surrounding Sherman Park was taken down Sunday morning, but put back up again Saturday afternoon.
The park had been closing at 6 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. following the violence in the neighborhood after the shooting death of Sylville Smith.

County inmates, under the supervision of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, began removing the fence Sunday morning when deputies told the inmates to stop. After a brief exchange, the fencing was allowed to come down.

Abele released the following statement Sunday morning:

"The fence installed at Sherman Park was a literal and figurative barrier standing in the way of healing in the Sherman Park neighborhood. Liberal access to public spaces like Sherman Park should generally be protected, and in this case especially where the park is of significant value to the community, we were all eager to see a return to normal operations. I appreciate the good working relationship we’ve always had with the deputies who patrol our parks, and am grateful for their service during these difficult times.”

Later in the day, Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies could be seen putting the temporary fence back up.

When residents asked why they were putting it back up, they said that they were given orders to do so.

"My question is, what purpose is this serving?" one resident said. "It is an eyesore for the community."

Residents told TODAY'S TMJ4 they were given a number to call by deputies to explain the situation.

"The park is not the problem, the problem is the people," the same resident said. "We need to stop, we need to get along. We have to get the respect back on both sides in order for this to end."

Abele released the following statement Sunday afternoon:

"No one is served by the sheriff's decision to replace a fence that makes a community park look like a crime scene, especially in the face of such unanimous and informed consent from neighbors and law enforcement alike. The hundreds of kids who go to the Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club in the park, the residents who use the fields and courts every day at the park, and the neighbors who are used to seeing trees and green grass as opposed to an orange snow fence all deserve the opportunity to heal and come together. The only person who thinks the sheriff has the unilateral authority to make this decision is the sheriff. The sheriff's misunderstanding of what he is and isn't elected to do is causing disruption and violates the law."

TODAY's TMJ4's Veronica Macias talked with some concerned residents about the situation below: