Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Supervisor Ryan Clancy Suing City After 2020 Arrest

Clancy's suit seeks to prohibit city from using curfews in the future and argues 2020 curfew violated due process.

By - Jun 4th, 2021 02:07 pm
Newly-elected Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy was one of at least five people arrested Sunday night around 10:45 p.m. by the Milwaukee Police Department. Government employees, social service workers and members of the press are exempt from the city’s curfew order. Clancy pleaded with officers to be released before being put in a wagon at approximately 10:50 p.m. The arrests happened near the intersection of N. Oakland Ave. and E. Edgewood Ave. on the Milwaukee-Shorewood border. A protest vehicle caravan was stopped at the intersection with dozens of cars waiting to turn east on Edgewood. A few protesters left their vehicles and threw traffic cones, beer cans and a brick at an empty Brown Deer Police SUV. The vehicle suffered many dents. Shortly thereafter the vehicles drove away, leaving a group of several dozen people, many of which were area residents. A large contingent of law enforcement arrived, including state police, MPD officers and suburban officers. No Wisconsin National Guard members were spotted at the scene. Clancy was arrested as well as several other people. Urban Milwaukee witnessed five individuals be placed into police vehicles. Clancy was not told what he was being charged with and officers in riot gear debated the matter after putting him in a wagon. The county supervisor, first elected in April, owns Bounce Milwaukee in Bay View. He was spotted at the Saturday march serving as an American Civil Liberties Union observer.

Sup. Ryan Clancy being taken into custody. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy filed a lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and their respective law enforcement agencies Friday morning regarding his May 31, 2020 arrest.

Clancy, as Urban Milwaukee was the first to report, was arrested for a curfew violation last year at the Milwaukee-Shorewood border on the third night of the protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

While his citation was ultimately dropped, he is pursuing a broader policy change through his suit.

“I would like to see the end of curfews in Milwaukee,” said Clancy to members of the media gathered outside City Hall Friday. He argues they are ineffective and arrests related to them have a racial bias.

He is being represented by attorneys Edgar Lin and Drew DeVinney.

Clancy, as Urban Milwaukee witnessed on the day prior to his arrest, was monitoring the protests as a volunteer observer for the American Civil Liberties Union wearing a marked vest.

He said he was doing the same when the curfew went into effect at 9 p.m. on May 31st. Clancy said he took off the vest, put on his county supervisor pin and stepped over the border at E. Edgewood Ave. into the Village of Shorewood. He said he was seeking a ride home.

“It was illegal to ask my wife or my friend to come pick me up,” said Clancy, detailing the limited options given the curfew.

But then a large number of law enforcement officers began arriving at the scene around 10:30 p.m. A warning was given about impending curfew arrests.

Clancy said he recorded others being arrested.

“They lined up and forced us from Shorewood, where there was no curfew, to Milwaukee, where there was,” said Clancy. “I was tackled without warning by an officer who immediately took possession of and turned off my phone.”

He said a pandemic-related facemask partially covered his face, blocking an officer’s attempt to unlock his phone with facial recognition software.

After his arrest, Clancy, as Urban Milwaukee watched, pleaded with officers to reapply plastic bracelets to his hands that were too tight. He was critical of the effort and time it took to release them and reapply a new set.

He also repeatedly identified himself as a county supervisor and explained he was exempt from the emergency curfew.

But Clancy couldn’t secure his release. Urban Milwaukee watched him be placed into a police van around 10:45 p.m. He was in jail until approximately 3:00 a.m. according to his suit.

“I am less interested in holding the individual officers accountable than the system,” said Clancy.

But Clancy’s attorneys have run into issues with his case, namely no law enforcement agency at the scene has produced any body camera evidence.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office provided a written statement that it has none. Clancy said the Milwaukee Police Department hasn’t responded.

He still doesn’t know who the officer was that tackled him.

His suit lists the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office as defendants, but “John Doe” for the names of the officers.

Does Clancy blame then-chief Alfonso Morales for the way the officers acted? “Yes,” said Clancy. But he declined to speculate why there is no body camera footage.

Urban Milwaukee observed and photographed officers from the Shorewood Police Department, Brown Deer Police Department and Wisconsin State Police also at the scene, but none of those departments are named in the suit. Lin told Urban Milwaukee that is because there is no footage of them.

But that’s part of the reason Clancy held a press conference Friday. His legal team is asking anyone at the scene that could describe what they saw or that has photos or videos to come forward. Lin’s firm, Ahmad & Associates, can be reached via its website.

A claim for damages from personal injury is not currently part of the suit. The suit puts forth four claims: unlawful seizure of his phone, the use of excessive force, a failure to intervene and a “Monell” doctrine claim related to a failure to train officers related to the limits of the emergency curfew.

The suit claims that the emergency curfew first declared by Mayor Tom Barrett on May 30th violated due process and was invalid under due process and state law because the mayor only has the authority to declare an emergency if the Common Council is unable to meet. Clancy’s suit argues the council was able to meet given its teleconference capabilities.

You can read my real-time chronicling of the incident via my Twitter from that day.

Arrest Video

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6 thoughts on “City Hall: Supervisor Ryan Clancy Suing City After 2020 Arrest”

  1. sbaldwin001 says:

    Supervisor Clancy and Urban Milwaukee seem to be very well-informed legally and otherwise in this case. I wish both had been more informed when Supervisor Clancy endorsed a MPS school board candidate in my district who did not live in the district. Also, both Milwaukee County and the city of Milwaukee are facing significant financial constraints in the future, and I question whether this lawsuit is something his constituents will appreciate. Perhaps there are other, less destructive ways for him to make his point?

  2. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @sbaldwin001 – I assume you are referring to Aisha Carr. We published an article noting she didn’t live in the district and continued our long-standing practice of not making endorsements.

    Clancy’s suit doesn’t seek any financial settlement. He wants a policy change.

  3. sbaldwin001 says:

    @Jeramey Jannene – Your report exposing the fact that Aisha Carr did not live in the district was printed after the election. A little late for practical use. Thanks.

    Regarding Mr. Clancy, he is tying-up the time of city and county attorneys in numerous non-productive ways in order to make his point. Base on the numerous “as Urban Milwaukee watched” phrases in this story, Urban Milwaukee is hand-in-hand with his effort.

  4. sbaldwin001 says:

    Excuse me, your report exposing Aisha Carr was printed April 3. Three days before the April 6 election, but well after many early voters had cast their ballots.

  5. ILoveMKE says:

    Does the City Attorney have a conflict of interest in this case? Tearman and Ryan knocked on doors together during their campaigns. Would this be another case that gets outsourced to an outside firm?

  6. Mark Nicolini says:

    If Clancy’s suit is successful, you can bet his attorney fees will be part of the resolution.

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