Neighbors collect remnants from outside a home that was burned this week during civil unrest. Jaleesa Hall lived in the house on North 40th Street that got burned. At the time, she was away giving birth to a daughter at the hospital. (Photo: Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Claim:Milwaukee police were protecting a sex offender’s house and sneakedchildren out of it after a mother tracked her missing daughter to that address.

More than a month after a crowd of people set fire to a Milwaukee home they believed was a sex trafficking hub, conspiracy theories continue to surround a chaotic and confusing series of events.

But those theories are no truer now than they were at the time.

An array of claims stemming from the brief disappearance of two teenage girls in late June have made the rounds on social media accounts and in Reddit forums.

A June 28 Facebook post which features an image of a tweet packs many of them together. The post has generated more than 20,000 likes. Here is what it reads:

Are we just not going to talk about the fact Milwaukee police were caught on camera sneaking children into a van with masks over their face after a mother tracked her missing daughters phone to a registered sex offenders home & the cops were already there protecting the house ?!?!

Lets unpack this unfounded claim.

What we know about the incident

According to a June 23examination of what happened that day from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, two girls, ages 13 and 15, were last seen in the 2900 block of North 21st Street at around 5 p.m. June 21. They were reported missing four hours later.

On June 22, police responded to the 2100 block of North 40th Street in reference to the report of the missing girls.

Milwaukee Police Department call logs show police twice went to the block that night for a trouble with subject call and for a report of a threat. Police searched the house in question, but did not find the missing girls.

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The morning of June 23, a group of people congregated outside the home on North 40th Street after seeing social media posts about the house and the two missing girls. Many expressed frustration that police were not doing enough to locate the girls.

Police were called to the house shortly after 10 a.m. after several people allegedly tried entering the home to look for the girls themselves. Police again searched the home and said later the girls were not there just as they had not been the night before.

In a video that was live streamed to Facebook, Milwaukee community activist Vaun Mayes is heard saying that people were again trying to enter the house shortly before three or four gunshots were heard, followed by six more shots. Nobody was hurt in that exchange.

Shortly after, the house was set on fire.

More gunshots were eventually fired from the crowd, injuring a boy and girl, both 14 years old, police said. Police at the time noted no officer fired a gun during the incident, but they did use nonlethal munitions, including rubber bullets.

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Another shooting was reported near the scene, and shortly before 12:30 a.m. on June 24, the house was again set on fire.

Its unclear when the two girls were found, but police said they were located by one of their mothers more than 3 miles from the house.

The two girls denied ever being at the 40th Street house and ever knowing anyone who lived there, police said. No evidence of human trafficking was discovered at the house.

On July 28, a Milwaukee man was charged with arson and attempted arson.

The claim

The June 28 Facebook post includes a number of parts to the claim, all of them off target. Well break it down piece-by-piece.

Milwaukee police were caught on camera sneaking children into a van with masks over their face.

A video posted to Reddit purports to show this happening.

In the video, a man is heard saying (police) pulled the van up to the door so they can sneak that s— out. The video, which is blurry, then shows a number of people leaving the house with colorful coverings over their heads as officers direct them into a vehicle.

It isnt possible to determine how old the people are from the video. One person in a yellow head covering appears to be as tall as one of the officers. A subsequent person wearing pink appears to be half the size.

In a statement to the USA TODAY Network, Milwaukee Police said the people seen leaving the home with the officers were the residents who lived there and that they were removed after they heard people in the crowd threatening them.

Meanwhile, a woman who lived at the burned-out home told the Journal Sentinel on June 25 that the people in the house had nothing to do with this.

Neighbors pick up and preserve scraps from a paper, documents from a binder that were outside the home that was burned recently. Jaleesa Hall lived in the house on North 40th that got burned recently during the unrest. At the time was away giving birth to a daughter at the hospital. She lost everything in the fire. She also has a 2-year-old. She lived with Jerry Bowie, who rented the apartment with her. Her sister-in-law has set up a gofundme for Hall. (Photo: Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

A mother tracked her missing daughters phone to a registered sex offenders home.

It is not entirely clear how the group ended up at the house. Many of the theories circling online echo this part of the claim.

It is unclear if the mother was even at the house that morning, or how the house was identified. But the essential part of this piece of the claim is that it was the home of a registered sex offender. It was not.

A review of the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry revealed no sex offenders listed at the house in question. One registered sex offender, however, was listed as living in a house next door.

The cops were already there protecting the house.

This line takes nearly all the context out of the situation.

Police were originally called to the house on June 22 for a trouble with subject call and for a report of a threat.They were again at the house at various points throughout June 23 after people allegedly tried to enter the house, shots were fired on the premises and the house was set on fire twice.

Police did establish a perimeter around the house. Officials told USA TODAY Network that was after someone in the house exchanged gunfire with a member of the crowd.

At another point, police had to escort firefighters toward the house while the crowd threw bricks and other projectiles, according to the Journal Sentinel report.

Our ruling: False

We rate this claim FALSE based on our research. The post spins a series of unfounded allegations into a conspiracy theory that simply does not hold water.

Our fact-check sources

  • Trillz DeMoura, Facebook, June 28, 2020
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Here’s what we know about the chaos that unfolded Tuesday near a Washington Park home, June 23, 2020
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, ‘We had nothing to do with this’: Milwaukee woman had just given birth when the house where she lived was set on fire during unrest, June 24, 2020
  • Medium, Unheard Voices: Are Police Participating In Sex Trafficking In Milwaukee?, June 24, 2020
  • Reddit, r/MilwaukeeGate, June 24, 2020
  • Reddit, Video of “children exiting”, slowed down 2x, zoomed in. I label at least 3, possibly 4 from this one video, June 24, 2020
  • Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Sex Offender Registry, July 30, 2020
  • Email with Amanda Bailey, sister-in-law of woman at house, July 27, 2020
  • Phone call with Jaleesa Hall, woman who lived at house, July 27, 2020
  • Email with Sheronda Grant, Milwaukee police spokesperson, July 27, 2020

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