In the wake of the Ferguson riots, a video of a police chief talking about police shootings and real community threats is going viral.
Earlier this month, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn gave a passionate, eloquent response to aggressive protestors who showed up at a Fire and Police Commission meeting.
In October, a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed a homeless mentally ill man. Officer Christopher Manney approached Dontre Hamilton, a non-violent schizophrenic, and allegedly violated protocols that escalated the confrontation. In the end, Manney ended up shooting Hamilton 14 times.
And while Flynn admitted that public concern was “not unjustified,” protestors showed up at the meeting to verbally attack the department.
"Flynn responded by firing Manney, taking flak from the police union in the process," the Inquisitr reported. “When police protesters showed up to verbally attack him and other members of the police at the meeting, Flynn was having none of it. He shouted back at many of them and took a phone call, much to the chagrin of the protesters.”
In the three-minute video from the Journal Sentinel now going viral, reporters confronted Flynn about taking a phone call during the meeting. His response was a very direct one.
"Well, I was on my phone, yes. That is true. I was following developments about a 5-year-old girl sitting on her dad’s lap who just got shot in the head by a drive-by shooting," Flynn said, growing more passionate. “If some of the people gave a good goddamn about the victimization of people in this community by crime, I’d take some of their invective more seriously.”
Flynn quickly rattled off startling statistics about the city’s “racial disparity”: In Milwaukee each year, 80 percent of homicide victims, 85 percent of aggravated assault victims and 80 percent of shooting victims who survive shootings are African-American.
"Now, they know all about the last three people who have been killed by the Milwaukee Police Department in the course of the last several years. There’s not one of them that can name one of the last three homicide victims we’ve had in this city," Flynn argued. “But this community is at risk alright, and it’s not because men and women in blue risk their lives protecting it. It’s at risk because we have large numbers of high-capacity, quality firearms in the hands of remorseless criminals who don’t care who they shoot.”
He said that the department is “responsible for the things that we get wrong” and admitted to both arresting and firing cops.
“But the fact is, the people here, some of them, who had the most to say, are absolutely MIA when it comes to the true threats facing this community. It gets a little tiresome, and when you start getting yelled at for reading the updates on the kid who got shot, yeah, you take it personally.”
Flynn ended his rant by telling reporters that he was going directly to the crime scene.
On Tuesday night, after the grand jury’s decision not to charge a white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, about a hundred protestors marched in downtown Milwaukee condemning police killings. The Milwaukee protest was a relatively peaceful one with no significant incidents.
On Wednesday, Flynn spoke to Fox & Friends about “the core of urban policing”: Addressing violence in his city.
"That is the issue we’re dealing with here, isn’t it?…It’s children being shot. It’s young adults being shot. It’s the future of our neighbourhoods being robbed by violent people who are armed with firearms and don’t care who they shoot."
When Fox & Friends brought up “black-on-black violence,” Flynn was quick to turn the attention to victims of violence — and to community members who are trying to make their streets safer.
“I mean, what we have is an incredible disparity in who is victimized by violent crime. Let’s not forget the victims. Most of our offenders are repeat offenders. Our communities inhabited by poor people of colour are trying. I mean, you’d never know the number of community partners we have — and authentic community leaders — who, every day, are trying to do something about crime and disorder in their neighbourhoods. But they never get quoted. They never get sought for an interview. The only way to get on TV is to scream invective and yell the loudest. And that’s very frustrating for police chiefs, because we see guys showing up on TV, accusing us of all kinds of depredations, that we’ve never seen before,” Flynn said.
“We go to neighbourhood meetings in those disadvantaged communities and they want one thing from their coppers: Protection. And they work with them because they know their children’s future depends on their safety. That’s where the important battles are being fought. A lot of this stuff is a cynical distraction from the real work.”