By Adam Rife
MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — A Milwaukee women’s center that helps victims of human trafficking needs help after its office was broken into and destroyed.
A disgruntled employee broke into the Convergence Resource Center and trashed the place. That suspect is still on the run.
Executive Director Dr. Debbie Lassiter says she was the original target, and when they couldn’t get to her they destroyed the office. “Had they been able to get to us we may have been hurt.”
Dr. Lassiter says the group had ice picks and other weapons. “I can tell you we’ve been in business for almost 20 years, and we’ve never, ever seen anything like this.”
When they couldn’t get to the women, the group instead destroyed computers, security systems, televisions, supplies, and furniture. The estimated cost of the damage: $25,000-$30,000.
Dr. Lassiter said, “We really have no idea other than rage. The police believe it was planned.”
Started in 2004, the non-profit organization works with human trafficking survivors and women released from incarceration. They help thousands of women rebuild and recover after experiencing trauma, free of charge.
The disgruntled employee is also a client they’d been working with for more than two years. Dr. Lassiter said the center was holding an item that belonged to the suspect, and they thought it would not be returned. “Actually, at the moment she was driving up, I was on the phone calling her. To let her know we had gotten a release from the lawyers to return the items.”
But that wasn’t enough to stop the suspect.
Dr. Lassiter said, “Five minutes later this probably never would have happened, but the amount of rage we’re seeing here, this really makes no sense for someone that we helped for so long.”
It reads in part: “Because of our commitment to survivors and their journeys, it is imperative that we keep our doors open. Please support us and our survivors in this challenging time, so we can keep providing trauma-informed care, education, and training to our clients.”
Dr. Lassiter said, “If the community would like to help us, we’ve served the community all this time, and we’re just hoping they can help us now.”
She says the center’s files are secure because they’re stored on the cloud and they were not accessed.
MPD says the suspect is known to them and is asking for any information.
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