Sunday, August 14, 2016

Racial Unrest In Milwaukee Follows Police Shooting

Photo: Calvin Mattheis, AP 
On Saturday afternoon, a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed a young black man. Another young black man was arrested without being harmed.

As of the time of this writing, it is not clear why the officers stopped the two men. Initial reports said that they were suspects in a carjacking. Later, it was because of "suspicious activity." Even the police spokesman didn't know why they were stopped.

It was also reported that the dead young black man was armed with a semi-automatic handgun that held 23 rounds. Again, there is some confusion on whether the man had even pointed his gun or shot at the officer. All the police are saying is he didn't drop his weapon.

Saturday night, there was a protest at the scene of the shooting that turned violent. A couple of cars were set on fire as were some businesses:
After an hours-long confrontation with officers, police reported at 10:15 p.m. that a gas station at N. Sherman Blvd. and W. Burleigh St. was set on fire. Police said firefighters could not for a time get close to the blaze because of gunshots.

Later, fires were started at businesses — including a BMO Harris Bank branch, a beauty supply company and O'Reilly Auto Parts stores — near N. 35th and W. Burleigh streets, a grim and emphatic Mayor Tom Barrett said. He spoke at a midnight news conference at the District 3 police station at N. 49th St. and W. Lisbon Ave.
Mayor Tom Barrett blames social media for people congregating.

The right wing pundits and bloggers just threw up their traditional race bating and bemoaning of the loss of property while dismissing the value of human life.

Today, after the unrest was calm and community and religious leaders started bringing in volunteers to clean up the area, Faux Newz favorite, Sheriff David "Uncle Ruckus:" Clarke ignored that it is out of his jurisdiction and called for the National Guard to come in.

The most mature and intelligent response came from another young black man, newly elected Alderman Khalif Rhainey:
Rainey, who represents the area where the man was shot by the officer and the disturbance occurred, was particularly pointed. He said Sherman Park had become “a powder keg” this summer, and ended his remarks by implying that downtown could be the site of disturbances if the issues facing African-Americans here not addressed.

“This entire community has sat back and witnessed how Milwaukee, Wis., has become the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country,” Rainey said. “Now this is a warning cry. Where do we go from here? Where do we go as a community from here?

“Do we continue – continue with the inequities, the injustice, the unemployment, the under-education, that creates these byproducts that we see this evening? … The black people of Milwaukee are tired. They’re tired of living under this oppression. This is their existence. This is their life. This is the life of their children.

“Now what has happened tonight may have not been right; I’m not justifying that. But no one can deny the fact that there’s problems, racial problems, here in Milwaukee, Wis., that have to be closely, not examined, but rectified. Rectify this immediately. Because if you don’t, this vision of downtown, all of that, you’re one day away. You’re one day away.”
Sadly, Rainey is absolutely correct. Wisconsin has been found to be the worst state in the nation for Black People:
Based on our index, Wisconsin is the worst state for black Americans. Typical black Wisconsin households made roughly half the white median household income, a wider income gap than in the majority of states. Wisconsin’s black residents were also far less likely than white residents to have health insurance, with a gap of more than 30 percentage points. Black Americans in Wisconsin are at a much greater risk of death than their white peers as well, which could be due in part to poor health coverage. There were 980 deaths per 100,000 people among Wisconsin’s black population — one of the highest rates nationwide. This figure represents 288 more deaths than the comparable rate for white residents, nearly the largest gap reviewed. Black Wisconsin residents were also nearly 10 times more likely than white residents to go to prison, nearly the largest gap. Black children in Wisconsin had worse educational outcomes than both their white classmates and their black peers in other states. Milwaukee led the nation of most racially-segregated U.S. cities, which may actually make the problem in Wisconsin more a problem for Milwaukee, where the vast majority of the state’s black population lives.
Wisconsin does have the highest rate of incarceration for blacks and Milwaukee has been found to be the most segregated city.

Even today, knowing that the race problems are real and immediate, our elected leaders only keep adding fuel to the fire. Mayor Tom Barrett is more worried about investing in downtown Milwaukee, especially his precious streetcar, than in the black communities where help is really needed. Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele, the plutocrat that he is, has given more than $100 million to the billionaire owners of the Milwaukee Bucks to build an arena and their own plaza.

As Rainey said, unless there is real change, there won't be any change. He wasn't even alive in 1967 and even I was just a baby still, but the community hasn't - or shouldn't have - forgotten the riots of 1967.


  1. One of the ways conservatives attempt to derail the issue, is by acting as if every shooting of a black person is an ex nihilo event. That no history of unlawful stops, low grade police harassment, and targeted persecution of certain sectors of society never happened. By shifting the field to the faults of the individual shot by Police they can pretend the system isn't set up to ghettoize and subjugate black society.