Welcome To FlynnWorld: Where Some Hate Crimes Aren't And Everything Is Pleasant
Okay, it wasn't as bad as Anthony Weiner's initial press availability. Other than that though, there's not much positive you can say about Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn's press conference yesterday.
Let's review the bidding.
First, a mob of predominantly African-American youths loot a convenience store on Humboldt and North shortly after the July 3rd fireworks. Immediately after the looting, the same mob (or in FlynnWorld, a different mob) goes on a wilding in Reservoir Park. People are injured, people are robbed. Several of the victims describe racial slurs that are directed at them as they are being attacked. Milwaukee Police arrive and are overwhelmed by the "chaotic" scene and decline to even take statements from many of the victims.
The following day, the Milwaukee Police Department expressly denies any "mob" activity occurred.
Forty hours after the wilding, Ed Flynn, the Chief of Police, finally holds a press conference and belatedly acknowledges that the mob beatings occurred. In his remarks, Flynn goes out of way to criticize the press for "sensationalizing" the situation and aggressively downplays the hate crime aspect of the case.
If there was one word to describe Flynn's performance over the last couple of days, that word would be "pathetic".
Seriously, how could authorities not have immediately known that they had a wilding on their hands? How could police on the scene not have taken the time to get statements from victims and made sure that those injured received the medical attention they needed? How could it have taken Ed Flynn 40 hours to address the matter in public?
And why is Flynn so reluctant to deal with the "hate crime" aspect of this case?
If 50 rampaging white kids looted a convenience store and then attacked groups of black kids in a public park (making racial taunts in the process), there's no question that this would be a national story. With the situation reversed, Flynn appears to be going out of his way to gloss over the racial aspects of some of the assaults.
Where's Jesse Jackson when you need him?
I don't think the City of Milwaukee is an inherently unsafe place and I tend to think that what happened this weekend is atypical. Still, it's clear that the police response to the scene was inadequate and that the initial handling of the matter was at best clueless and at worst disingenuous.
So what's the lesson that the Chief should learn from this incident?
It's really simple. Get on top of problems early, don't spin when the Department makes mistakes, and let the chips fall where they may - even if it makes the Mayor uncomfortable.
After all, we live in the real world - not FlynnWorld, where some hate crimes aren't and everything is pleasant.