Saturday, September 26, 2009

Milwaukee Police Officers Profiling Blacks, Business Owner Alleges


Police Chief Eward A. Flynn ordered officers to check license plates for registered felons visiting the gun store

By H. Nelson Goodson
September 26, 2009
Updated October 2, 2009

Milwaukee -On Thursday, October 1st, Police Chief Edward A. Flynn during a press conference said, Badger Guns has "a business plan that depends on selling guns to criminals." However, the Wisconsin Department of Justice confirmed that Badger sold guns legally to customers. Even, Wisconsin state legislators and U.S. Congressmen say Badger has sold guns legally as required by federal and state laws.
Flynn was crticised for implying Badger sold guns to felons. Legislators agreed that people buying guns for felons should be the ones targeted for illegally buying them for felons, and not Badger Guns.
Adam Allan who owns Badger Guns removed the sign alleging that his Black customers were being profiled by the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) this week saying, "I made my point."
On September 25, a controversial sign was posted by a Allan drawing attention to MPD and their tactics being used to stop Blacks leaving Badger Guns Inc., 2339 S. 43rd St. in West Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Allan put up an outdoor sign accusing the Milwaukee Police Department of profiling customers. Allan allege MPD officers are pulling over African-American customers once they leave the store. The sign read "Racist Milwaukee Police Department is pulling over African Americans leaving this store. Sorry for the inconvenience."
Apparently, numerous complaints from customers claimed that Milwaukee police have stopped them shortly after leaving the store and then are asked if they had any weapons in the vehicle.
Residents in Wisconsin of legal age and who can prove U.S. citizenship can buy a weapon, if they don't have a felony or a restraining ordering for domestic dispute. In Wisconsin, it is also legal to carry a weapon, as long it is not concealed, according to J.B. Van Hollen, Wisconsin Attorney General.
However, Flynn ordered his officers to stop anyone carrying a weapon on plain sight in order to question and possibly cite the person for disorderly conduct.
On June 11th, Flynn says a program was initiated to stake out Badger Guns to help stop "Straw Purchasing." Straw purchasing is a term used by police indicating a person buys a gun for another person who is not legally authorized to purchase a gun. Federal law prohibits straw purchases, and Wisconsin has yet to oulaw such purchases.
The program allows surveillance by officers to target any vehicle suspected of suspicious activity, such as a man staying in the car while a female or another person goes into Badger to shop. Officers also run license plates to see if they come back as registered to felons, according to Flynn.
When officers get a positive ID for a vehicle registered to a felon, they then stop the vehicle on a traffic violation. The tactic is called a "pre-text" stop, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it's legal to use.
Although, for officers to specifically target vehicles in a business parking lot and to run their plates for this type of operation is questionable, could raise a legal challenge, and could very well violate the privacy of customers. Eight African-Americans have been arrested and charged as a result of the police operation, according to court records.
According to Wisconsin law, felons are not barred from gun shops or shooting ranges, but are prohibited by law to own or carry a weapon. Also, felons who are no longer on paper, probation, and incarcerated get their rights restored, but are prohibited by state and federal law from owning or carrying a weapon. Unless, a judge stipulates during a conviction a certain right is withheld.
A prior Wisconsin case, a felon used a gun to shoot someone else in self defense. He was never prosecuted because he did not have a concealed weapon at the time of the shooting, prosecutors decided.
Police reported that at least more than 1,850 guns used in crimes were recovered in Milwaukee and were linked to Badger between January 2006 and Sept. 1st, according to the new gun-trace data. But, all the guns recovered from crime scenes were sold legally by Badger Guns to the initial gun buyer and a back ground check with the Wisconsin Department of Justice approved the sale.
During the 11 week Stop Straw Buying operation, officers have seized 12 guns from felons and others leaving the store, have confirmed that felons have used the shooting range, and felons have been seen by officers frequently visiting the store.
Flynn, Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm agree there is no state law prohibiting felons from going into a gun shop, but would like see a change of law to prohibit felons at least 1,000 feet from gun shops and gun shows. Chisholm said Badger can and must do more to prevent straw buying gun sales.
The straw buying operation began shortly after the June 9th shooting of two officers in the South side Walker's Point. Julius Burton, 18, was charged for shooting both Officers Kunisch and Norberg with a .40-caliber Taurus pistol. Both officers survived and have serious long-term injuries. Burton bought the gun from Jacob D. Collins, 21, who has admitted in federal court that he bought the gun at Badger in May.
Allan admits that Badger Guns has been doing everything they can to prevent illegal gun sales. Officers are targeting mostly Black men, according to Allan. Flynn denies Allan allegations of racism, but admitted Black men have a higher percentage of arrests and convictions related to gun incidents resulting in death and injuries in Milwaukee.
In Wisconsin, it is illegal for police officers to simply profile a person for his ethnicity or origin in order to stop him or assume a person is about to commit a crime due to his/her looks.

2 comments:

Colon said...

We all know it's easy to buy guns in America. How easy? Can Crazy People Buy Guns?

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