A crowd in Milwaukee suspected there was a sex trafficking house in their neighborhood and decided to take justice into their hands by burning down the place.
Heavy reported that people were angry about the disappearance of teenagers Gilbreana Perkins, 13, and Tydrianna Perkins, 15, who hadn’t been seen since Sunday. Worried neighbors confronted the police on Tuesday at the house where the girls had been seen earlier in the week. The police came in search of the girls Monday and Tuesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but didn’t locate them.
On Tuesday, police responded to a chaotic scene, where an angry crowd was gathering, placing crime scene tape around the house and looking into a van parked outside. A man was then removed from the home. Several videos shared to social media contained graphic language and content as the ordeal unfolded.
(Warning: Graphic video)
— #FirstThem NEWS🇺🇸 (@FirstThemNEWS) June 24, 2020
According to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales, bricks were thrown at police amid shouts to defund them. Officers in riot gear faced down the crowd at one point.
The officers left around 3 p.m. and two hours later, around 5:20 p.m., the apparently vacant house was set on fire.
The girls were eventually found but Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales stated in a press conference that evening that there had been little cooperation from the family.
Milwaukee burned down this Pedophiles house today. pic.twitter.com/QtqdFIUyTa
— Sarah McKenzie (@sarah_veenstra) June 24, 2020
“This whole chain of events could have been avoided,” Morales said. Three people, including two teenagers, both 14, and a 24-year-old man, were also reportedly shot but survived with non-life-threatening injuries. Police were not involved in the shootings.
Community activist Frank Sensabaugh, known to the community as Frank Nitty, recounted what led up to the arson in a Livestream and had a different version of events.
(Warning: NSFW Graphic language, audio and video)
Missing kids tracked to this house✊🏿✊🏼✊🏻
Posted by Frank Nitty II on Tuesday, June 23, 2020
“It started with this house, missing kids. When the people called the police, the police came and didn’t do s**t basically, so the people decided themselves to come back to the house. They said people left the house, little kids left the house,” he recounted.
— roberto pedone (@zerosum24) June 23, 2020
“So, when they came to the door, people started shooting throughout the door. Then the police came and arrested the people for shooting through the door. The detective told me he didn’t find any evidence of the missing kids in the house.”
Nitty continued by saying people entered the home and found shorts with blood on them. They believed that person who lived in the house was a sex offender but the police were not certain of that. The response, including officials not issuing an Amber Alert forced them to “take our city back” and take action.
“We have all these Black kids missing,” Nitty said and argued that the police weren’t doing “sh**t about it.”
Police spokesman Sgt. Sheronda Grant said that the girls did not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
She said it is still unclear whether the girls were victims of trafficking.
“That’s something that we are looking into,” she said. “So that’s under review. However, I cannot confirm that that is the case.”
Morales asked residents of the neighborhood for patience as they try to figure out exactly what happened.
“We can’t allow an unruly crowd to determine what that investigation is. What you had today is vigilantism,” he said, adding that there was a lot of disinformation circulating about the incident. “You had people take the law into their own hands and run off of information that has not been proven. We need to investigate that… we need to determine what crimes have been committed,” he said.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!