Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Dem Legislator Defends Riot After 27 Milwaukee Jail Inmates Are Charged


Democratic/Socialist state Rep. Ryan Clancy outrageously called a Milwaukee jail inmate riot a “peaceful occupation,” and said the accused killers, child rapists and other inmates had a “need for civil disobedience,” even though four Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department staff members were injured in the incident

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office has charged 27 inmates with crimes for taking over the jail “library” area in a pod because they didn’t get enough gym time.

The complaint says the inmates – including eight accused killers and seven accused rapists – barricaded themselves inside the library, threatened officers, and refused to come out. The incident occurred on August 12 but somehow never hit the media until now. The jail has “critically low staffing levels,” according to the Sheriff’s spokesman.

One of the charged inmates, Lawrence Griffin, was in the jail in the first place because he’s accused of murdering a 12 year old over a dispute over the boy’s glasses. Another, Marquan Roy, is accused in the shooting death of a 66 year old woman caught in the crossfire.

Although the accused rioters include inmates in jail on very serious offenses, including first-degree intentional homicide, attempted murder, domestic abuse, firearms offenses, and child rape, Democratic/Socialist Rep. Ryan Clancy apparently thinks people should feel sorry for them, in part because they aren’t getting free phone calls or paid more inside the jail, per a press release he whipped out.

Jordan mayrand
Jordan mayrand, accused of fentanyl dealing and being a felon in possession of a firearm

The rioting incident escalated over the span of almost two hours, with the inmates covering their faces, putting paper over the door windows and flooding the library room by damaging a sprinkler, before they were subdued with pepper spray, a criminal complaint says. A press release from the Sheriff’s Department states that “the barricade was preceded by the occupants in question collectively expressing dissatisfaction with their gymnasium time coming to an end and expressing that, generally, they wanted more ‘open’ recreational time.”

Four staff members were injured in the incident, according to the criminal complaint obtained by Wisconsin Right Now on August 31. You can read the complaint in full here.

Jakobie davis
Jakobie davis, who was in the jail for homicide when the riot occurred.

Despite the fact that four staff members were injured with one being taken to the hospital, Democratic/Socialist state Rep. Ryan Clancy, also a county board member, labeled the riot a “peaceful occupation of a library” that resulted in “beatings” in a news release. Clancy referred to the rioting inmates as “people in our care.” He admitted that a deputy was bruised.

The criminal complaint says an inmate, unidentified, turned toward an officer with a closed fist so the deputy delivered multiple baton strikes to the lower part of his body and ordered the inmate to stop resisting, during the out-of-control incident, the complaint said.

Cortez jones
Cortez jones was in the jail for first-degree reckless homicide allegation

The Sheriff’s Department’s release says: “Each occupant was medically examined and then placed back into cells in a housing unit. One officer was transported to an area hospital for treatment of an injury sustained in this incident. Three other officers were treated on site.”

Clancy has already earned national news attention for his virulent anti-police comments. In Facebook comments first reported by Wisconsin Right Now, which received media attention on Fox News and in other outlets, Clancy proclaimed that police officers “may be perfectly fine individuals, but their jobs have neither dignity nor value.” He also accused sheriff’s deputies of trying to “cosplay as first responders” in other comments.

Milwaukee County Sheriff Denita Ball slammed Clancy for his anti-law enforcement comments. “Time and time again, year after year, Supervisor Clancy has proudly proclaimed his contempt for the vital work of law enforcement, even while serving as the chair of the Judiciary, Law Enforcement and General Services Committee,” she said in a separate news release. “It is disturbing that a government leader entrusted with this role is using it to attack the profession that keeps our community safe.”

Denita ball
Sheriff denita ball

Clancy’s statement continued to blame the Sheriff’s Department for the riot, which he dubbed “civil disobedience” due to “horrific conditions in the jail,” listing banned visitation and charging families “high rates” for phone calls, as well as not giving inmates higher pay for providing meals and laundry. He also said people are locked in cells for up to 23 hours a day and there were six jail deaths in the last 14 months.

We’ve learned that one of those deaths was of a retired Milwaukee police officer, Steve Mahnke, who died August 13 while in jail for failure to support. However, he died in the hospital and was afflicted with “several chronic illnesses,” passing away after suffering “heightened symptoms that appeared to be related to his chronic conditions,” a sheriff’s release says. The medical examiner’s report for Mahnke has a nondisclosure on it.

In one jail death case, a correctional officer was charged with misconduct in public office, and a recent jail report cited ongoing overpopulation and staffing problems in the jail, the latter deriving in part from low pay for correctional officers. The Sheriff’s budget, of which CO pay is a part, is set by the County Executive and County Board on which Clancy serves. According to WTMJ, of the 13 people who have died in the jail since 2018, however, six died of suicide and seven from “pre-existing conditions.”

Christian cardona
Christian cardona, one of the charged inmates

Way back in 2021, we reported on the severe staffing challenges in the jail, which were leading to arrested people being held in city police districts. In addition, because of massive unresolved court backlogs, the jail has a large number of homicide defendants who are awaiting trial. Some have been in the jail for some time; one of the accused rioters, Jakobie Davis, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide in November 2022, and he also has a pending drug case that predated the murder charge.

According to the complaint, the 27 defendants were charged with obstructing an officer and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. We have asked the Sheriff’s Department why the public wasn’t alerted to the riot at the time. The Sheriff’s spokesman, James Burnett, told us, “Publicizing the incident prior to the investigation being complete and prior to legal consequences, if any, had been determined, may have caused or contributed to more disruptive incidents. And with our critically low staffing levels, we didn’t want to risk further incident and potentially jeopardize the safety of occupants and officers alike.”

According to the complaint, Pod 6C is an area where inmates are held on open criminal cases, awaiting either future court dates or transportation to other institutions. There are two levels of cells in the pod with two staircases connecting the first and second levels. The first level contains a correctional officer’s desk, as well as chairs and tables for use by inmates, the complaint says.

The second level contains another common room known as the “library.” It’s located at the top of one of the staircases and has a door for access and glass windows that look out into the pod, the complaint says. There are multiple surveillance cameras, which cover the common areas of the pod, except the interior of the library and other areas on the 6th floor of the criminal Justice Facility.

On Saturday, August 12, 2023, the 27 inmates were housed in Pod 6C. There were 34 other inmates who did not participate in the incident.

A correctional officer said he was working in the jail when the 27 defendants barricaded themselves inside the Pod 6C library, closed the door, and refused to come out, the complaint says.

The complaint further alleged:

The inmates had barricaded themselves in the Library and had put paper over the windows. They were ignoring commands from staff.

A full facility lockdown was ordered and the Jail Correctional Emergency Response Team was notified. Jail staff continued to negotiate with the barricaded inmates in an attempt to get them to leave the library and return to their cells voluntarily and peacefully, but none of the barricaded inmates complied, despite continuing commands from correctional officers and sheriff’s deputies.

Included in those attempting to negotiate were Lieutenant Noel Ybarra and facility Director Joshua Briggs. The barricaded inmates refused all commands, refused to open the door, refused to uncover the windows, and threatened jail staff, the complaint said.

None of the barricading inmates exited the Library in compliance with the orders and negotiations, including after orders from correctional officers and sheriff’s deputies, the complaint said.

The incident started at 1 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., pepper spray was sprayed underneath the door. The inmates failed to comply and responded by damaging the sprinkler head system inside the library causing water to flood the room, the complaint says.

At 2:45 p.m., the director ordered the barricaded inmates removed, and a deputy punched a hole in the window to the library and sprayed OC spray into the library while giving them commands. They were secured, it says.

A table was pushed against the door and the barricaded inmates were wearing coverings over their faces, the complaint says.

Four responding staff members suffered injuries as part of the extraction, the complaint says.

A correctional officer was taken to the hospital for treatment for a soft-tissue injury, it says.

One officer and deputies were treated for exposure to OC spray.

“Kudos are due to the responding officers for their professionalism and efforts to resolve the situation with minimal disruption to the operations of the MCJ and the lives and wellbeing of occupants and jail staff alike,” the Sheriff’s Department’s press release says. “Jails, generally, can be difficult settings for both workers and occupants. It is important for the safety of all that order is maintained.”

The inmates are (with the charges they were in jail for when the riot occurred, if known):

Steven A. Bailey, accused of repeated sexual assault of same child, battery and domestic abuse

Christian J. Cardona, accused of first-degree sexual assault of a child

Gerry Lewis Carroll, accused of first-degree sexual assault with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping, second-degree sexual assault of a child

Jakobie M. Davis, accused of first-degree intentional homicide

Darryl E. Dent, accused of illegal firearm possession

Marland D. Edwards, accused of second-degree sexual assault

Kentreal T. Evans, accused of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and a slew of other charges

Demetrius Jamal Exum, accused of meth dealing and firearms offense

Andrae Germone Fredrick II, accused of battery by prisoners, 2nd degree recklessly endangering safety and other offenses

Marqwell Demetri Good, accused of discharging a firearm and felon in possession of a firearm

Lawrence Griffin, accused of 1st degree intentional homicide and a slew of other charges

Devonta Rashad Grover, accused of 2nd degree sexual assault as a habitual criminal

Rickey Jerome Harris III, accused of armed robbery, reckless injury, and firearms offense

Francisco J. Herrera, accused of felony murder

Larry Jermaine Jackson, accused of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, possessing a firearm as a felon and other charges

Ronnie Jackson Jr., accused of first-degree intentional homicide

Cortez Antonio Jones, accused of first-degree reckless homicide

Kendray E. Lewis, accused of first-degree sexual assault with a dangerous weapon

Lorenzo Carveyea Lyons, accused of armed robbery and operating auto without owner’s consent

Jordan Alan Mayrand, accused of drug dealing (including of fentanyl) and being a felon in possession of a firearm

Sir Bishup Pirtle, accused of 1st degree recklessly endangering safety and other offenses

Marquan S. Roy, accused of 2nd degree reckless homicide with use of a dangerous weapon

Alan Anthony Smith, accused of domestic abuse and a slew of other charges

Edward Darell Tyler, accused of armed robbery

Isaiah J. Wheeler, accused of 2nd degree intentional homicide

Shaun Antonio White, accused of first-degree reckless homicide

Andre Labron Williams, accused of human trafficking, second degree sexual assault and other charges

Trump's First Criminal Trial

Prosecutors Rest Their Case Against Trump in Hush Money Trial

State prosecutors rested their case against former President Donald Trump on Monday, capping off four weeks of testimony from 20 witnesses.

The first-ever trial of a former President was one step closer to a conclusion after prosecutors concluded their case Monday. Next up: Trump's attorneys will get a chance to present their defense. The case centered around Trump's alleged sexual encounter with an adult film actress in 2006 and a $130,000 payment to her in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied the encounter happened.

Prosecutors allege that Trump covered up the payment to Stormy Daniels and another hush money payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the election and covered them up as legal payments.

Trump, 77, is the first former U.S. president to be charged with a felony.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to money paid to Daniels and McDougal. Bragg has alleged Trump broke New York law when he falsified business records with the intent to commit or conceal another crime.

Prosecutors allege Trump falsified internal records kept by his company, hiding the true nature of payments that involve Daniels ($130,000), McDougal ($150,000), and Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen ($420,000). Prosecutors allege the money was logged as legal expenses, not reimbursements. Both Cohen and Daniels testified during the trial.

Daniels detailed the alleged 2006 sexual encounter and testified she "blacked out." She also said Trump didn't wear a condom. Defense attorneys asked for a mistrial after that testimony, which they argued was prejudicial.

Judge Juan Merchan denied that motion and repeatedly fined Trump for his comments and social media activity outside of the courtroom. Merchan ordered Trump to pay a total of $10,000 for violations of the gag order.

The gag order remains in place. Trump, the nation's 45th president, is prohibited from making or directing others to make public statements about the jurors, witnesses, attorneys, court staff, district attorney staff and family members of staff.

It is not clear if Trump plans to take the stand in his own defense. He previously said he would take the stand if necessary.

Under New York state law, falsifying business records in the first degree is a Class E felony that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

In late March, Trump said that he wasn't worried about a conviction when asked if he thought a conviction could hurt his chances of returning to the White House.

"It could also make me more popular because the people know it's a scam," he said. "It's a Biden trial, there is no trial, there's a Biden trial."

Whatever happens during the trial, Trump will be protected by the U.S. Secret Service.

Even if convicted and sentenced to jail, Trump could continue his campaign to retake the White House.

"The Constitution does not bar felons from serving as President," said Richard Hasen, professor of law and political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Trump could not pardon himself from any state charges, Hasen said.

Federal Scholarship Program Under Fire For Alleged Bias Against Conservatives

Lawmakers have threatened to revoke the appropriations for a federally-funded scholarship program that an audit found favors liberally leaning students over conservatives by a ratio of 10 to 1.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established in the 1970s to award scholarships to students who “demonstrate outstanding potential for and who plan to pursue a career in public service.”

An audit of those scholarships performed by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, though, reported strong liberal bias at the taxpayer-funded foundation.

“While this role suggests these programs should include scholars who reflect a breadth of views, values, and interests, their participants instead display a stark ideological tilt,” AEI said in its report.

The foundation does have members of both parties on its board, including U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kans.

Notably, President Joe Biden's Education Secretary Miguel Cardona also sits on the board.

House Republican lawmakers on leadership on the relevant committees sent a letter to foundation Executive Secretary Terry Babcock-Lumish demanding answers.

“Between 2021 and 2023, the Truman Foundation selected 182 Truman winners,” the letter said. “Yet, despite the Truman Foundation’s claims that it ‘supports scholars from a wide range of perspectives, interests, and geographic areas,’ just six recipients espoused interest in a cause traditionally considered conservative-leaning.

“Not a single winner professed interest in causes such as protecting the rights of the unborn or defending the Second Amendment,” the letter continued. “By contrast, the Foundation selected at least 74 winners professing interest in a progressive cause.”

The foundation awards about 60 scholarships every year.

“As a publicly funded award charged with preparing the civic leaders of tomorrow, the Truman Scholarship should, at a bare minimum, be reflective of the country’s breadth of values, viewpoints, and interests,” the letter said. “The Truman Foundation requested approximately $3 million in appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year. However, if the Truman Scholarship functions as a career booster solely for students of a particular political persuasion, it should no longer be worthy of Congressional support, taxpayer funding, or its exalted public image.”

Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development Chairman Burgess Owens, R-Utah., and Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., led the letter.

The foundation did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Push Questions About IDs For Illegal Immigrants, Voting

(The Center Square) – Some Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to calm fears about illegal immigrants getting IDs and voting in the state.

The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections and the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection held a hearing Thursday with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, some local election clerks and Fond du Lac County’s district attorney.

“We're not trying to get anybody into a bad spot here, or in a corner, or make accusations on that level,” Sen. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, said. “We want our clerks, who are already stressed enough, to know that we are here to be there as an assist to them.”

Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said he wants to make sure voters have faith in Wisconsin’s electoral process.

“This is one of the topics that hit our inboxes quite a bit the last three months or so,” Krug added. “We thought it’s pretty important just to vet it out, to get all the information out to the public.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission was invited to Thursday’s meeting but didn’t attend because commissioners were having a meeting of their own. But that left lawmakers’ questions unanswered.

Wis-DOT Deputy Secretary Kristina Boardman said Wisconsin is known as a strict voter ID state.

“I want to make very clear that Wis-DOT is required to provide free identification cards for U.S. citizens that request them for the purposes of voting, and that to be eligible for that free identification card one must be a U.S. citizen and at least 17 years of age,” Boardman said. “Wis-DOT staff do not determine voter eligibility or register anyone to vote. Someone who has a Wisconsin ID or a driver's license is eligible to register to vote online, and that information will be confirmed with Wisconsin DMV systems to ensure that the information entered for voter registration is consistent with the DMV's records

Boardman said in Wisconsin, less than a fraction of one percent of ID requests are fraudulent.

“We put together [a] case activity report, assemble all of the documentation that we have, we have the investigator that had the case pull that together, and we do refer that to law enforcement so that they can take whatever action is appropriate,” Boardman added. “We note what statutes we believe may have been violated. And then it's up to law enforcement to take action.”

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Senate Republicans Override Evers’ Vetoes

(The Center Square) – On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate voted to override nine vetoes from Gov. Tony Evers, including the vetoes that scuttled PFAS clean-up money, millions of dollars that were earmarked for hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls and a plan that would allow advanced practice registered nurses to work more independently.

“The legislature has passed hundreds of bills to solve problems facing Wisconsin businesses and families. Most of these bills were signed into law, but many were vetoed by a governor more focused on politics than policies that help everyday Wisconsinites,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Tuesday. “Overriding the governor’s obstructive vetoes is the last, best way to address these critical issues.”

The override votes came one day after Evers sued the legislature over nearly $200 million that is attached to some of his vetoes.

Most of that money is the $125 million that’s supposed to go toward PFAS clean up in Wisconsin.

“For the fifth time this legislative session, I voted to provide Wisconsin families with the largest investment in clean drinking water in state history – five more times than every Democrat legislator in this state combined. The bill that Gov. Evers vetoed (SB 312) would have created a grant program that targets this critical funding to areas of the state most heavily impacted by PFAS contamination while protecting innocent landowners from financial ruin,” Sen Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said.

Evers has accused the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee of obstructing his plans to clean up Wisconsin’s drinking water, and of delaying his other actions across the state.

LeMahieu said Evers is simply playing the game.

“While Gov. Evers plays politics, the legislature will continue to do the right thing on behalf of the people of our state,” LeMahieu added.

Senate Democrats responded with game-playing accusations of their own.

“Coming in to do all these veto overrides was clearly a stunt to try to appeal to voters ahead of the fall election,” Den. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said. “Clearly Republicans were hearing from things in their district and wanted political cover. I don't think they got political cover today. I think what they got was people realizing just how afraid they are.”

But Tuesday’s veto overrides are largely symbolic.

While Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate have a veto-proof majority, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly do not.

trump vs biden

Trump Holds Lead Over Biden Heading Toward November

With less than half a year until the 2024 presidential election, former President Donald Trump holds a sizable lead over incumbent President Joe Biden in several swing states.

While the overall national polling varies and shows a tighter race, Trump holds significant leads in several swing states.

According to Real Clear Politics, Trump leads in a slew of key battleground states like Arizona (+5.2), Georgia (+4.6), Michigan (+0.8), Nevada (+6.2), North Carolina (+5.4), Pennsylvania (+2.0), and Wisconsin (+0.6).

Other polling has shown Trump with a dominant lead in the Sun Belt while performing less well against Biden in some rust belt swing states.

“As the old saying goes, good gets better and bad gets worse, and it’s clear President Biden is in bad shape right now,” Colin Reed, a Republican strategist, former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies, told The Center Square. “Five and a half months is an eternity in politics, and there’s theoretically still time to right the ship, but it’s getting late early for the president, especially when Father Time remains undefeated and doubts about his age continue to grow. “

According to the Real Clear Politics’ national polling average, Trump leads Biden 46.1% to 44.9%.

A New York Times poll released this week showed leads for Trump in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania but slightly trailing Biden in Wisconsin, raising concerns among supporters.

Trump’s lead has been in large part fueled by minority voters flocking to his side.

Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating has plummeted since taking office. While that is not unusual for incumbents, Biden’s approval is lower than recent presidents.

Gallup recently released polling data showing that in the 13th quarter of Biden’s presidency, he averaged a 38.7% approval rating, worse than Trump at the same time in his term.

“None of the other nine presidents elected to their first term since Dwight Eisenhower had a lower 13th-quarter average than Biden,” Gallup said.

Axios reported this week that Biden and his team think the polls don’t represent Americans’ actual feelings and that the president’s position is strong.

“They're still 50% (well 45%) to win, per betting markets,” pollster Nate Silver wrote on X. “But Biden has been behind Trump in polls for a year now. His approval is in the tank, and voters have been clear they think he's too old. If Trump wins, history will not remember Biden kindly.”

Meanwhile, Trump spends valuable campaign time in a series of court appearances for his myriad of federal prosecution court dates.

“I’m under a gag order,” Trump told reporters after a court appearance Tuesday. “Nobody has actually seen anything like it ... I'm beating him in every poll and I have a gag order, so I think it's totally unconstitutional."

Republicans have blasted Biden for Trump’s prosecution, accusing Biden of using the Justice Department against his political opponent.

“Despite Far Left Democrats’ illegal election interference, President Trump is beating Joe Biden in the polls!” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on X Tuesday. “Voters see right through the sham Biden Trials and know President Trump is the best choice for president.”


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