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Judge Extends Order, Sherman Park Open During Regular Hours

Michelle Maternowski

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher on Wednesday extended his order that Sherman Park remain open during its regular hours. However, another hearing has been set to consider the bigger issue - what's the legal protocol for deciding when an emergency exists and expires. For now, anyway, the orange fencing is gone.

Original Story from Wednesday Morning:

A Milwaukee County judge may settle a dispute Wednesday between Sheriff David Clarke and County Executive Chris Abele, over the hours Sherman Park should be open to the public. Normal hours are 6:00 A.M. - 10:00 P.M. but Clarke had been ordering his deputies to close the park each day at 6:00 P.M., ever since the unrest that erupted in the neighborhood, following the fatal police shooting of an African American man on August 13.

The unrest appears to have passed, but not the argument over the park's hours and its fence.

On Sunday, Abele ordered the park to resume closing at 10 P.M., and for deputies to take down the orange snow fence they had wrapped around the park. As soon as Abele issued his directive, Clarke ordered deputies to close the park again at 6 P.M. and for sheriff’s deputies to again erect the fence. He said he wanted to prevent people from gathering in the park at night, possibly sparking unrest.

When the dispute between the sheriff and county executive escalated, Chief Judge Maxine White called a special session of the court and appointed Judge David Hansher to preside over the hearing.

On Sunday night, the judge ruled in Abele’s favor, issuing a temporary restraining order barring the sheriff from closing the park early. Sheriff’s deputies were back in the park on Monday, taking down the orange fence.

Today, the judge will decide whether to make permanent his temporary order, that Sherman Park return to its normal 10 P.M. closing time.

Abele’s office released a letter from the county’s top attorney, stating that the sheriff has the power to close a park early, in the midst of unrest but there's no evidence such a move is necessary at this time.

Clarke has said limiting access to the park prevents any gathering of people seeking to ruin the quality of life in the Sherman Park neighborhood.

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