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Scores of law enforcement agencies have withdrawn from prior agreements to provide security for the Democratic National Convention that is scheduled to take place in Milwaukee in just a few weeks, leaving organizers scrambling to find suitable protection.
At last count, more than 100 law enforcement agencies pulled out following a recently-issued directive from Milwaukee city leaders forbidding police from using tear gas.
“A citizen oversight commission last week directed Milwaukee’s police chief to publicly account for why the department used tear gas during protests in late May and early June after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and to change Milwaukee’s police policies to ban the use of tear gas and pepper spray,” The Associated Press reported, citing the withdrawals.
“The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission said in its order that Police Chief Alfonso Morales could be fired if he fails to comply,” the AP noted further.
In an interview with WTMJ-TV, Morales said that following the order more than 100 agencies in Wisconsin and elsewhere around the country pulled out of the DNC event.
He did not identify which police agencies would no longer participate in providing security or how many police officers were still expected to show up. Originally, 1,000 officers were expected to protect the venue from agencies outside the city. Morales added that agencies backing out could be replaced with federal assistance or state National Guard forces.
Because of coronavirus, the DNC event, scheduled for Aug. 17-20, itself was not expected to draw more than 300 people and will mostly be a virtual affair.
However, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to be the party’s nominee, has announced he would be on hand to accept the nod in person.
Despite the event’s scaled-down attendance, however, police are nonetheless preparing for large protests at the venue and in the surrounding areas, perhaps by Left-wing supporters who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ second failed attempt to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.
In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Fond du Lac Police Chief William Lamb said agreements between the Democratic National Committee and area police agencies were tanking.
Also, Lamb — chairman the Wisconsin Police Executive Group, an organization comprises of police chiefs from cities of 20,000 or more people — said he believes more law enforcement agencies will pull out in the coming days.
Lamb sent a letter to Milwaukee police July 6 expressing concerns over bans of pepper spray and tear gas. That came after concerns expressed to Morales in mid-June by West Allis police over the policy.
“Our concern is that in the event protests turn non-peaceful, such a policy would remove tools from officers that may otherwise be legal and justifiable to utilize in specific situations,” said West Allis Deputy Chief Robert Fletcher in an email to the Journal-Sentinel.
Some police agencies withdrew for other stated reasons. For instance, the Madison Police Department informed Milwaukee it was pulling its officers due to “an accelerating COVID-19 pandemic coupled with ongoing protests in Madison.”
The withdrawals also come amid rising criticism of police by Democrats and their Left-wing allies in cities and states around the country following the death of George Floyd in May at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Several Democrat-run cities have since moved to “defund” police departments while banning the use of certain non-lethal crowd control gear such as tear gas and pepper balls.
Last week, a federal judge temporarily blocked Seattle’s pending ban on those items in response to a Justice Department request.
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