City attorney to review all curfew citations given to protesters: 'I will not take a blanket approach'

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's newly-elected city attorney announced Friday, June 12 that he will review all curfew citations handed out to peaceful protesters following the death of George Floyd. Some will be dismissed -- but likely not all of them.

Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer

City Attorney Tearman Spencer said he plans to review all 170 tickets issued between May 30 and June 1. Some of those citations were given in-person -- others got their citation in the mail.

"The final decision whether to prosecute or dismiss citations will be made by me, the City Attorney, on a case-by-case basis," Spencer said. "I have to look at it from the perspective of the whole city and what`s best for the city and what`s best for the citizens while I do that."

Milwaukee police issued the tickets during the first weekend of protests. Mayor Tom Barrett ordered a curfew for two nights -- and said anyone who violated the curfew could be arrested.

The ACLU and other outside groups are calling on Spencer to dismiss all of the curfew tickets issued.

Spencer indicated there are two main factors he will consider when reviewing each citation -- the constitutionality of the citations -- and the intent of the mayor's emergency curfew order. In the end, Spencer said not every person issued a ticket deserves one.

"I will not be prosecuting of all the citations," Spencer said. "But understand, I will not take a blanket approach and dismiss all. I will be looking at them at a case-by-case basis to make sure and understand the merit of each one."

Ticketed protester and Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy said the review is a good first step.

"The end goal is here is not for the ticket to be thrown out. It's to make sure we don't have the misconduct of enforcement in the future," Clancy said.

Clancy plans to sue -- and he is not the only one.

Vaun Mayes got his citation in the mail four days after the curfew ended.

"They apparently watched my Facebook Live and sent me a ticket based off that," Mayes said.

It is unclear how many other tickets were mailed.

"I'm going to do what I need to do lawfully. But never, never am I going to be quiet on the voice of the citizens. Their voice is my voice," Spencer said.

The Milwaukee Police Department released the following statement on this matter:

"The Milwaukee Police Department enforced the city-wide curfew promulgated by Mayor Tom Barrett who proclaimed a state of emergency in the City of Milwaukee on May 30, 2020 through June 1, 2020, due to the looting and riotous behavior that occurred at night. Due to Mayor Barrett’s proclamation, MPD enforced that curfew by issuing citations to individuals who violated that order. The authority to issue citations to enforce that curfew was based upon the legal advice we received from the City Attorney’s Office."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett issued the following statement:

“I support the City Attorney’s approach. He has the authority and responsibility to look at every ticket. There will be tickets that should be dismissed but each ticket should be reviewed individually.”