Shaina Perry remembers the punch to her face, blood streaming from a cut over her eye, her backpack with her asthma inhaler, debit card and cellphone stolen, and then the laughter.
“They just said ‘Oh, white girl bleeds a lot,’ ” said Perry, 22, who was attacked at Kilbourn Reservoir Park over the Fourth of July weekend.
Though Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn noted Tuesday that crime is colorblind, he called the Sunday night looting of a convenience store near the park and beatings of a group of people who had gone to the park disturbing, outrageous and barbaric.
“We’re not going to let any group of individuals terrorize or bully any of our neighborhoods,” Flynn said.
Perry was among several who were injured by a mob they said beat and robbed them and threw full beer bottles while making racial taunts. The injured people were white; the attackers were African-American, witnesses said.
At some point the group of friends and the group of youths intersected; those interviewed said the attack appeared to be unprovoked.
“I saw people dancing and I figured they were just having a good time,” said Riverwest resident Jessica Bublitz, 28.
Minutes later Bublitz saw a male friend hit in the temple and fall down. Her fiancé told her to run to safety. James Zajackowski, 28, said things suddenly turned chaotic.
“Within 30 seconds to a minute, bottles were flying and people started getting punched. I was in shock. I thought, ‘Really? Is this really happening?’ I was on the ground, people were trying to get into my pockets, I could feel their hands but I held on to my cellphone and my wallet,” said Zajackowski, a census worker.
Andy Lange, 29, a social worker who has lived in Riverwest for 10 years, said one of his friends was hit in the head with a bottle and needed staples to close the wound. Lange said he was struck in the face and didn’t even see who hit him.
Perry needed three stitches to close a cut above her eye. She said she saw a friend getting kicked and when she walked up to ask what was happening, a man punched her in the face.
“I heard laughing as they were beating everybody up. They were eating chips like it was a picnic,” said Perry, a restaurant cashier. “All I remember is seeing bright lights (after the punch), then my backpack was gone and blood was spurting out of my head.”
Most of the 11 people who told the Journal Sentinel they were attacked or witnessed the attacks on their friends said that police did not take their complaints seriously. They each said police responded to the scene quickly and tended to the injured, but officers did not take statements from them and told them to leave the area.
“You’ve got 20-plus people giving eyewitness accounts. I’m very surprised that they said it wasn’t a mob,” said Mowrer.
“About 20 of us stayed to give statements and make sure everyone was accounted for. The police wouldn’t listen to us, they wouldn’t take our names or statements. They told us to leave. It was completely infuriating,” Bublitz said.