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Milwaukee protester says curfew citation was mailed to him after he posted video on social media

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Milwaukee protester says he received a curfew citation in the mail, but lawyers are questioning the legitimacy of the citation.

Demetrius Griffin received a curfew citation in the mail Wednesday for $691. For the last five days Griffin has been out protesting and posting his whereabouts on social media garnering thousands of views.

CBS 58 asked the Milwaukee Police Department and mayor’s office if these were legitimate citations,and they have not given a clear answer.

“Something’s not right about it, so that’s what I feel,” said Demetrius Griffin.

The citation raises questions. For one, Griffin doesn’t speak Spanish, but the citation is in Spanish. The citation was filled out by hand.

It says it was issued by Milwaukee Police Department’s ‘Virtual Investigation Unit,’ and that Griffin violated the emergency curfew and there’s video proof available.

“I feel like it’s just a scare tactic, they’re trying to intimidate me. They don’t like the stuff I say so it’s like they put $691 for breaking a curfew,” adds Griffin.

The citation does have Griffin’s driver’s license number, and has a signature by an officer. Griffin says he’s only one of two other people he knows of who have received similar tickets.

Milwaukee attorney Nicole Muller says she’s never seen a citation like Griffin’s before, but did say her law firm has received a number of protest-related citations and arrests.

“We’ve received several inquiries from people who have not only received municipal ordinance violation tickets, but also referrals and some criminal charges,” said Nicole Muller, an associate attorney for Birdsall-Obear and Associates.

Griffin feels his First Amendment right was violated.

Muller says people should not pay the fine, but it is important people don’t ignore the citation, and instead take it to court.

“They’re using stuff like this to make us shut up about our First Amendments because we are just out peacefully protesting,” said Griffin.

“If you’re raising constitutional issues in litigating these citations, they need to be raised before your proceedings really start,” adds Muller.

We put the ticket number into the Milwaukee Municipal Court System and it was not found, but Muller says tickets could take some time with the possible backlog due to protests. She says it is important citations get taken care of, especially if you were arrested in the process.

“What will still come up on a criminal background check is their arrest, so it will say arrest for disorderly conduct, and employers could see that, future schools could see that,” Muller said.

Police Chief Alfonso Morales tells CBS 58 he hasn’t seen the citation himself. He says the department doesn’t have the capacity or time to look for people to give curfew citations based on social media posts, but he would use posts to try to get someone in that committed some sort of larger crime.

Muller wants to remind protesters they do not have to answer police questions or show them social media videos, because they need a warrant first in order to get that.

“Before you go out and protest, get a name and number of an attorney and write it on your arm,” says Muller.

“If it’s legit, we’re going to go to trial. If it’s not, you’re still not stopping us—I’m not going to stop,” said Griffin.

Muller is just one of a number of lawyers providing free legal services and assistance to George Floyd peaceful protesters.  

For more information, click here.

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