Activists want US Attorney General to investigate Milwaukee Health Department lead program

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A coalition of activists and politicians said the state's investigation into the city's lead prevention program was inadequate for not interviewing former leaders and want to move ahead with asking the U.S. Attorney General's office to conduct its own investigation.

Last week, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office said it would not file criminal charges in the probe, saying there were unreliable documents and a prosecution could not be built off of them. On top of that, the Wisconsin Department of Justice said it could not interview several former health department leaders, something activists point to as to why they believe the investigation is lacking.

"This investigation that the Department of Justice released is a sham," Fresh Water for Life Action Coalition spokesman Robert Miranda said during a news conference on March 28.

"Let me be clear, if you've not interviewed the top individuals in the health department I don't know how thorough it can be," State Senator Lena Taylor added.

The state investigation found years of poor leadership, lack of funding and a toxic work environment led to the Milwaukee Health Department mismanaging some lead poisoning cases in children. Now the groups are moving forward with trying to get federal help.

"We need to hold these folks accountable for these crimes committed against us," Miranda said.

Among the speakers was Shawana Hughes, whose 4-year-old son suffers from high blood lead levels. Hughes said she plans to file a lawsuit against Milwaukee County on the issue, adding government leaders have not done enough.

"Our government has failed us tremendously," Hughes said. "If they want to talk about crime rate[s] if they want to talk about mental health issues we got to start first by our drinking water."

Activists said they hope to meet with the U.S. Attorney General's office in the coming weeks.

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