Mayor Barrett: ‘Sympathetic’ To Sherman Park Residents Who Want Peace Restored

Police Arrest 17 People In Sherman Park Neighborhood, Lawmaker Says Officers Threw Him To Ground

Cliff (CC BY 2.0)

Following the arrest of 17 people in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, the city’s mayor, Tom Barrett, said his greatest concern is for neighborhood’s residents.

“This is a residential neighborhood where there are a lot of really good people who live there and they want to have their street back and I’m very sympathetic to that and our police department is trying to reestablish that as well as it can,” Barrett said.

A state lawmaker was among those arrested, stating police officers threw him to the ground and put him in handcuffs Tuesday night after he began filming a friend’s arrest.

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Rep. Jonathan Brostoff represents Milwaukee’s east side, but he went to Sherman Park following reports of the arrests to speak with residents. He was talking with members of the faith community at about 10 p.m. when he was cuffed and thrown into a police wagon. He was later released.

Police say another confrontation began and they moved in to disperse a disorderly crowd, arresting and releasing Brostoff and a second person. Brostoff says he saw no disorderly conduct.

“I didn’t do anything wrong, and if I had a different job, I would have been treated very, very differently, and that’s not right,” Brostoff said.

A Milwaukee Police Department spokesman said a crowd of about 30 to 40 people gathered in the neighborhood near the memorial for Sylville Smith, the black Milwaukee man whose death sparked violent protests earlier this month.

Police said they asked the crowd near 44th St. and Auer Ave. to peacefully disperse Tuesday when officers observed violations of the law. The police department said after waiting about 20 minutes, the crowd was again asked to leave. Some people left the area, but others refused and police began to make arrests.

Police arrested 13 people Tuesday, the department wrote in a press release.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office claims neighbors in the area had been complaining about a group of rowdy people doing drugs and disturbing the neighborhood. The Milwaukee Police Department wrote in its release that officers responded after receiving complaints from residents since Smith’s death about “disorderly groups” and “demands” for action by election officials.

On Wednesday morning, a small group gathered in the same area and ignored a resident’s request to leave her property and created a disturbance, the release states. Officers arrested three men for disorderly conduct. One was also arrested for resisting an officer.

In the release, the department wrote that it “continues to join with Sherman Park neighbors, community groups, faith leaders and elected officials calling for peace in the community and the disruptive, disorderly behavior to cease.”

The department also denied allegations that it’s attempting to remove the roadside memorial.

Sherman Park has been closing at 6 p.m. since protests occurred several weeks ago.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating Smith’s death. Police have said Smith turned toward an officer, also black, with a gun in hand before he was shot.

Brostoff said the city needs more preventative, not punitive, solutions to the kind of unrest that roiled the neighborhood after Smith’s shooting

“And I don’t think pushing an agenda of we’ve gotta hire way more police to solve this is a good idea and I know that was the city’s safety plan,” he said.

Milwaukee’s Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton said a plan released last week takes a holistic approach to improving public safety.

“Not wanting to have a conversation about the law enforcement side — everybody has to understand that law enforcement is not going away and so it has to be part of the discussion when we talk about public safety,” Hamilton said. “Get comfortable with that.”

Police say the encounter with Brostoff is being investigated.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with reporting on Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, Mayor Tom Barrett and new information from the Milwaukee Police Department.

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