"TPR TARGET LIST" Heads To Federal Court
On July 18, 1989, 19-year-old fan, Robert John Bardo shot and killed Rebecca Schaeffer at her home in West Hollywood. At the time of her death, she had been stalked by Bardo for three years. Bardo watched Schaeffer in the black comedy Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills in 1989, in which she appeared in bed with another actor. He became enraged by the scene, apparently out of jealousy, and decided that Schaeffer should be punished for "becoming another Hollywood whore".
Arthur Richard Jackson had stalked and stabbed actress Theresa Saldana in 1982, and Bardo learned that Jackson had used a private investigator to obtain Saldana's address. Bardo then paid a detective agency in Tucson $250 to find Schaeffer's home address in California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records. His brother helped him get a Ruger GP100 .357 handgun.
Bardo traveled to Los Angeles and roamed the neighborhood where Schaeffer lived, asking people if she actually lived there. Once he was certain that the address was correct, he rang the doorbell. Schaeffer was preparing for an audition for The Godfather Part III and was expecting a script to be delivered, so she answered the door. Bardo showed her a letter and autograph that she had previously sent him; after a short conversation, she asked him not to come to her home again. He went to a diner nearby and had breakfast, then returned to her apartment an hour later. She answered the door with "a cold look on her face", Bardo later said. He pulled out the handgun and shot her in the chest at point-blank range in the doorway of her apartment building; according to Bardo, she fell and said only, "Why?" Schaeffer was rushed to the emergency room of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead 30 minutes after her arrival.
Schaeffer's death helped prompt the 1990 passing of America's first anti-stalking laws.
As a result of this incident, federal law regarding the release of personal information through the DMV was changed. The Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which prevents the DMV from releasing private addresses, was enacted in 1994. It was introduced by Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia in 1992, after an increase in some opponents of abortion using public driving license databases to track down and harass abortion providers and patients.
The Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (also referred to as the "DPPA"), Title XXX of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, is a United States federal statute governing the privacy and disclosure of personal information gathered by State Department of Motor Vehicles.
The act establishes criminal fines for noncompliance and establishes a civil cause of action for drivers against those who unlawfully obtain their information. The statute prohibits the disclosure of personal information without the express consent of the person to whom such information applies, with the exception of certain circumstances. These rules apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles as well as other "authorized recipients of personal information” and imposes record-keeping requirements on those "authorized recipients."
In 2020 a nationwide movement against police brutality began. While publicly, demonstrators took to the streets to enact positive change in their communities and police reform, behind the scenes law enforcement was doing something far more sinister. In Southeast Wisconsin, Wauwatosa Police Department crime analyst Dominick Ratkowski began creating what is being referred to in a Wisconsin Federal Court as a “TPR Target List”, which compiled over 200 people’s private DOT record information amongst other information on or around June 5th 2020. This document became a living document and was consistently added to from the original 40 names listed to the final 204 names and private DOT information. To date, there are known to be at least 24 versions of this 29 page document that have circulated through various law enforcement departments across Wisconsin, the FBI and even the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department in Minnesota as well as corporate and independent media outlets and potentially private citizens such as Kevin Mathewson the self-proclaimed Commander of the Kenosha Guard who allegedly has a copy of the unredacted list and has used that information to publicly doxx, intimidate, stalk and harass those who are on it through various "fake" social media names and email addresses. The truth is that little is actually known to the extent to which the Target List was disseminated and how far of a reach the list has. This list would later be barred due to a protective order issued by another court, yet those responsible for the disclosure of the list have never informed anyone of the sensitive content or the court order to not disclose the list any further. Photos contained on the left side of the Target List are DMV photos. Photos on the right Ratkowski claims were pulled from various social media accounts and live stream videos.
We as the American people have no choice but to give the government our personal info, but at the same time, the government has a responsibility and duty to protect that info.
Forty-Four of the Fifty Seven plaintiffs named in the lawsuit claim that Ratkowski obtained, used and disclosed their personal, private DMV information for the purpose of targeting them for participating in demonstrations throughout Wauwatosa in the summer of 2020 which helped illicit more than 40 “ghost arrests” where on police documents protestors were listed as “arrested” and assigned booking numbers despite no documentation of people actually being arrested or taken into custody. Ratkowski claims he was asked by Wauwatosa Detectives to assist in identifying members of the group “The People’s Revolution” that led demonstrations throughout Wauwatosa and various cities in Milwaukee County for over 400 days. Ratkowski searched what he calls “open source” material online for videos, photos and comments that demonstrators would post who he claims “attended” various protests. Not only would he search for videos posted to social media platforms, but he created “fake” user profiles on social media to stalk them on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and stalked them on dating apps with fake profiles he created in order to as he claims, “help identify individuals”. Ratkowski testified that he used the list when adding new names upward to 197 times and spent somewhere between 500-700 hours from June 2020 to November or December of 2020. Ratkowski testified that he sent the list to at least 34 people at various local law enforcement departments, the FBI and at least 7 other crime analysts in various cities and based on evidence the list was sent to over 100 people.
While Ratkowski claims he was identifying protestors for the “lawful” purpose so investigators would know the identity of “protestors” in case a violent act happened, or to identify due to specific incidents or potential witnesses to incidents, the evidence presented by Attorney Kimberly Motley and Milo Schwab shows a completely different theory as to why individuals were added to the “Target List”. Ratkowski testified that he was monitoring “all” protests with the purpose of identifying any acts of violence throughout Wauwatosa and Milwaukee County, yet no lists were created for counter protestors such as events held by former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke where physical acts of violence actually occurred at a rally at Serb Hall in 2021 where TPR demonstrators were attacked as well as the manager of Serb Hall who later died from covid complications after right leaning demonstrators were asked to put their masks on and refused, or the group Wisconsin Truck Takeover Enthusiasts who stalked members of TPR and engaged in threatening acts towards the group, or even a husband and wife who confronted members of TPR with a firearm as the group marched down the street, were never attempted to be identified, social media investigated or DOT information pulled on them. Ratkowski admitted during testimony he never created any list for any other groups other than who he believed were members or leaders of TPR. It is also worth noting that nobody asked Ratkowski to create a list and the majority of individuals that Ratkowski sent the list to never even asked for it. One such individual was James Guckenberg who is an attorney of an individual who was arrested in 2020. Guckenberg had filed an open records request for the police report pertaining to his client and instead received a drobox link that he says contained a “voluminous amount of documentation on hundreds of people he never asked for records for.
Molly Collins whom at the time worked for the American Civil Liberties Union, requested records based on the interaction that Wauwatosa had with other agencies relating to demonstrations and she received the drobox link with a copy of the unredacted version of the Target List among other documents and videos she never asked for.
Tracy Cole, whose son, Alvin Cole was shot and killed by former Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah sent a citizen complaint to city government and her name and her other children’s names were added to the Target List under the subheading “The Cole Family”. Another letter was sent to the Wauwatosa common council with over 80 names of community members who wanted to enact change and Ratkowski took it upon himself to identify those individuals as well, not knowing if any of them had attended a single protest. Individuals who may have commented on a social media post were also added to the Target List with no verification if they ever attended a protest or were being investigated for any type of alleged crime. Cole alleges that Wauwatosa PD has been sitting outside her house not only throughout the 2020 protest days following the death of her 17-year-old son Alvin Cole, but also days leading up to the Federal Trial. Other plaintiffs and those close to the case claim to have phone issues like they experienced during the 2020 protests or social media pages missing posts or being completely wiped.
Along with Dominick Ratkowski, Lt. Joseph Roy the former records custodian for Wauwatosa PD who is being accused of violating the DPPA for 32 of the plaintiffs. In 2021 Roy released unredacted police reports of over 500 pages of documents, video and unredacted confidential informant information via a drobox link that contained DOT private information consisting of addresses, birth dates, drivers license numbers, ht. wt. eye color, hair color to 16 people that went to lawyers, journalists, and regular civilians. Roy stated he did not know that the records he was releasing contained information collected from the Department of Motor Vehicles. During testimony Lt. Roy stated he “doesn’t verify where personal protected info comes from” before releasing records. During a prior deposition before becoming a defendant, Roy volunteered information such as DOT information gets auto filled on arrest records. In his testimony in court, he now had no idea where DOT information comes from when being put into an arrest record. Roy claimed that Wisconsin prides itself on being a “sunshine” state when it comes to transparency and the release of records to the general public. Another statement during testimony that Roy took great pride in was when he testified under oath that “reporters get all records”. A Journalist from Never Stop Media and the Wisconsin Examiner have records requests that are over two years old that have never been fulfilled by Wauwatosa PD, specifically under the supervision of Lt. Joseph Roy.
Among the plaintiffs that testified were Madeline Schweitzer and Sean Kafer, a husband and wife who documented the circumstances surrounding the shooting deaths of Antonio Gonazalez, Jay Anderson Jr, and Alvin Cole by former Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah whom a Milwaukee County Judge found probable cause to charge Mensah with homicide in the shooting death of Jay Anderson Jr. but special prosecutors still declined to formerly charge Mensah. Schweitzer and Kafer attended hundreds of events held by The People’s Revolution in order to document historical events for the purpose of a documentary that they are currently working on. Both Schweitzer and Kafer would find themselves on the Target List despite both parties never being arrested and being documentarians. Schweitzer, whose grandparents marched with Father James Groppi during the Civil Rights Movement in Milwaukee, leading many housing demonstrations which helped enact change throughout the Milwaukee area. Among those listed as plaintiffs is Father James Groppi’s daughter, Christine Groppi. Schweitzer testified that TPR had an original goal of marching for 100 consecutive days which ultimately surpassed that goal with more than 400 days of marching and other local events to bring awareness to police brutality and unjust police involved shootings as well as inequities within various Southeast Wisconsin cities. When asked how she felt about her personal, private DOT information being released with such “willful reckless behavior” Schweitzer stated it “gives her pause, she’s worried to film future public events because she doesn’t feel comfortable”. Kafer who is the Director of Documentary Department for a local college stated the thousands of hours of video footage he captured “people in the streets marching, dancing, interviews he conducted”. Neither Schweitzer nor Kafer were ever questioned by law enforcement for any alleged acts of violence. Kafer was one of the individuals who received a “ghost arrest” ticket from Wauwatosa.
Tiffany Stark who testified that she joined the marches because she saw a post by a teacher on social media for community members to get together who were concerned about things happening in the country. She attended several marches based on time and availability and described the marches as great energy, different backgrounds of people, there were Wauwatosa Moms, other organizations and she was excited to see people coming together. Stark never committed any crimes while she was protesting and no law enforcement ever reached out to her regarding any alleged investigation, violence or alleged incidents such as demonstrators blocking an ambulance which defense counsel claims happens, yet no video evidence of this incident exists. Stark who works in health care with a government clearance, takes such laws as HIPPA very seriously and testified she was “in shock” with the carelessness that Wauwatosa PD took with her private information. She never gave consent for her DOT information to be obtained, used or disclosed to anyone. Stark is one of several plaintiffs and others on the Target List including those not allowed to be talked about who are having difficulties having some of their government clearances renewed.
Multiple plaintiffs who testified about their own names or their children’s information showing up on the list felt “violated” including John Larry who was part of an ad hoc committee on racial equity that was set up by Wauwatosa City Government as a bridge between law enforcement and community members. The 4 members of the committee that were not law enforcement were also targeted for being part of the committee and Larry was put on the Target List. He has no connection to any incident, act of violence, or witness to any specific incident. Larry was also one of the individuals who were part of the “ghost arrests” in Wauwatosa.
Captain Luke Vetter, who also testified in the Federal Trial claimed the citation shows as “arrested” because the document does not show the sub-categories that their computer system shows. After several attempts at questions, Vetter finally conceded that anyone looking at the materials released by WPD would not be able to tell that Larry was never actually arrested. During testimony on the 4th day, Attorney Motley was asking Ratkowski if Larry had been added to the Target List because of his involvement with the ad hoc committee and Ratkowski had briefly looked over in the direction of his co-defendant, Lt. Joseph Roy and Roy shook his head in a “no” motion which prompted Ratkowski to answer with “no”. This was done on two occasions during his testimony.
The TPR Target List not only included demonstrators but also included State Representatives, a journalist from the Wisconsin Examiner, Attorney Kimberly Motley who is handling the case and not one of the named plaintiffs and many others.
These tactics being used not only by Wauwatosa PD but across the country should remind you of another era of history when something very similar was happening. The government began to see the movements for civil rights and against the Vietnam War as just as big a threat to national security as a soviet missile. Now the government’s law enforcement and national security resources are tasked with a new enemy within. The government is treating its own people as a threat to the government and needs to be treated as enemies of the state. Protestors labeled communists committing acts of treason. The FBI, CIA and National Guard were mobilized as defenses against national threats. Civil right leaders now considered heroes of American democracy were seen as part of a communist plot and a threat to national security. Hoover picks out MLK not just for surveillance but to disrupt the civil rights movement. The FBI begins a covert intelligence operation called COINTELPRO with documents titled the NEW LEFT & BLACK EXTREMIST. A tactic that came out of the Cold War to control the internal population. Agents would send MLK letters urging him to commit suicide; they infiltrated the Black Panthers turning them against each other by spreading false rumors. Others are shot by police. This all sounds crazy when you say them out loud, but there are thousands of pages of public records that substantiate all of this. The covert efforts to control and contain the movement fail. When MLK was assassinated in 1968, riots broke out in over 100 cities. A system that was supposedly there to protect its citizens was now turned against them, and the citizens were forced to fight back. The U.S. Government would draw up OPERATION GARDEN PLOT, a detailed blueprint for how the U.S. Military would deploy simultaneously to 25 American cities to put down civil unrest. By the 1970’s civil unrest was neutralized by infiltration, arrest and assassination. The “TRP Target List” is a clear example of COINTELPRO and Wauwatosa PD’s way of trying to dismantle the group and its members through tactics of police brutality, threats, intimidation, stalking, and arrests.
The trial was scheduled for 5 days. Both sides have rested, and the 8-person jury panel is awaiting closing arguments and jury instruction before being handed the case.
This is a developing story and Never Stop Media will continue to follow it.
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