Group calls for federal investigation into MPD, says minorities have been targeted

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Justice Coalition is a group calling on the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate the Milwaukee Police Department — claiming to have shocking evidence that proves police misconduct.

A group of community activists and members of several coalitions stood together in solidarity on Tuesday, November 21st. They have been gathering evidence to prove their case and are now demanding action.

“We are here today to ask the federal government for a full investigation of misconduct,” Debra Jenkins with the Milwaukee Justice Coalition said.

After the tragic in-custody deaths of Derek Williams and James Perry were caught on surveillance video, concerns regarding the Milwaukee Police Department were sparked. Then, four Milwaukee police offers were arrested in connection with alleged illegal strip and body cavity searches.

Those with the Justice Coalition say they want justice for all of those who have been mistreated. Their goal is for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to perform a broad “Patterns and Practices” investigation into the Milwaukee Police Department — patterns and practices they say have led to civil and human rights injustices involving the minority community.

On Tuesday, the group handed over a box of evidence collected to the U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. Attorney’s Office. They say this evidence backs up their accusations police misconduct targets members of the minority community — even going so far as to say there are “gangs” within MPD serving as “Punishers.” 

“I have pictures of police cars identifying the Punishers. I have pictures of the Number 7 District station. I have evidence that the Punishers do exist, along with ‘The Jump Out Boys,’ ‘Night Train,’ and many others with guns and badges who swore to serve this city,” Tory Lowe with Occupy the Hood said.

Members of the coalition say they are fighting for change.

“When there is mistrust between the police and the people, there is no healing. We want to heal our community,” Jenkins said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office accepted the evidence, and said it will be included with the information they received from others who have called an established tip line to report police misconduct. The U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Division will review all of the evidence.

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has set up a toll-free tip line and email address. The information gathered through these sources will be used to help determine whether U.S. Attorney James Santelle and the Civil Rights Division should conduct a formal “patterns and practices” investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department. 

Anyone interested in providing information can contact the Department of Justice bycalling 1-855-544-5132 or via email at community.milwaukee@usdoj.gov. The recorded phone message is in both English and Spanish.

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