Milwaukee Police Forcibly Arrested Two Men Last Night for Doing Nothing Wrong. They Got a Surprise When One Was A State Rep and the Other Was From the ACLU.

Last night in the Sherman Park area, Milwaukee police officers in riot gear wrongfully arrested two men for no good reason. But this time, the men they arrested had the means to demand their rights and were released. The men were Jarrett English, an organizer at the ACLU of Wisconsin, and State Representative Jonathan Brostoff.

At about 9:30 p.m., a handful of people, including Mr. English and Rep. Brostoff, stood on the northeast corner of Sherman Boulevard and Auer Avenue, observing a large contingent of police officers who had blocked off Auer on the west side of Sherman. The street has been the gathering place for community members since the fatal police shooting of Sylville Smith on August 13.

Numerous officers then forcibly arrested Mr. English as he was walking away as instructed. He was handcuffed, forced to the ground, involuntarily searched, and placed in a police van with Rep. Brostoff. After officials became aware that they had arrested a state legislator, the two were released without charges.

When I had the chance of speaking with Jarrett, he told me this:

“The situation was confusing, because I really did not know what I was being arrested for. It was embarrassing and dehumanizing, and I did not feel that I was being treated with the dignity and respect that should be afforded any individual. But I was mostly thinking about all of the young people this happens to every day who don’t have anyone to call to get free. We cannot continue doing this to our people. It has to stop.”

The Milwaukee Police Department has once again demonstrated its preference for occupation, excessive force, and belligerence over genuine engagement, civil dialog, and de-escalation. People have a right to stand on a street corner – to observe and record the police, as Jarrett was doing, or for any other reason. Unfortunately, rather than protecting people and their rights, law enforcement in this community all too often engages in the sort of destructive behavior to which Jarrett and Jonathan were subjected to last night. 

Although no one deserves to be treated like this, the police made the mistake this time of abusing people who were in a position to insist on their rights. Most people aren’t so lucky.

Jarrett English, a Milwaukee native, recently wrote about the history of police failures in his city. You can read it here.

CORRECTION: The piece originally identified Emilio De Torre as the legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. He is the ACLU of Wisconsin's youth and programs director. 


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Hopefully you are going to sue their asses into oblivion for their actions.




Sue them? That's the best you can do? These are people with power. Suing is what people like you and I would do. Pull a few strings and clean from the inside. That's what I want to see.


Which will unfortunately come out of the city budget and the officers will not be punished, it is a never ending cycle.


Thing is taxpayers pay for their lawsuits.


It's very hard to win a case against cops because they have "qualified immunity" from suit. If a cop believes he's right, whether reasonably or not, he can get out of a case like this.


Guess where the money for those lawsuits comes from:\ What a shit system. Should reduce their budget for this stuff.


By sue them you mean sue the taxpayers. Don't forget who pays those settlements.


Let's say that lawsuit wins. Who do you think pays for it? Taxpayers. The very people these cops are oppressing. Until monetary fines, penalties, and lawsuits come out of police pensions or are required to be paid by the police officers themselves, nothing will change. How can anyone in a position of authority be held accountable if their punishment is paid by someone else?

nancy janzen

49 years ago Wisconsin National Guard pointed loaded machine gun at me for looking on the porch for the paper. ACLU never cared whether I got blown away.


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