Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn said the chaos as officers tried to sort out the scene of a beating Saturday in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood might have led to complaints about how officers took statements at the scene.
“I understand the frustration of some people who were involved . . . The situation wasn’t as smooth and as calm as every victim might have liked,” the police chief said in an interview Wednesday on WTMJ-AM (620). Flynn said he understands some victims might have been frustrated, but said officers took reports of the robberies.
“I do know by the end of that evening we made three separate robbery arrests,” Flynn said. “We did follow proper protocol in terms of having the reports done and the investigation commenced that night.”
The chief also dismissed accusations that the police department had tried to downplay the beatings and the looting of a convenience store near Reservoir Park. Flynn said he and others in the department looked Monday at an online log of police activity in the neighborhood checked for incidents near the park. The log indicated there were robberies, but didn’t include a mention of the beatings.
“Our initial reaction was ‘OK, we had a series of robberies. We don’t have any reports of mob-like activity.’” Flynn said.
The full police reports include details about other crime that happened at the time of the robberies. Once he and others read that information, they passed it along to the media, Flynn said.
“It wasn’t an attempt to downplay or minimize or deny the concern about what we ultimately learned,” Flynn said.
After Sunday’s fireworks show along Lake Michigan, a BP station at E. North Ave. and N. Humboldt Blvd. was ransacked. A clerk at BP confirmed to the Journal Sentinel that he was busy waiting on customers when one or two people held the door open to let others rush in and steal snacks and candy.
A few blocks away, a group of friends who had gathered at Reservoir Park to watch the fireworks was attacked. On Tuesday, Flynn described the looting and as disturbing outrageous and barbaric.
In Wednesday’s interview, the chief said more witnesses had come forward. Flynn also said it was important to challenge commentary in some blogs and reader comments on news stories that emphasize the race of the victims and suspects.
“We can’t allow this activity to divide this community because ultimately, it’s this community standing together that will identify these individuals and ultimately bring them to justice.”