Many years ago while walking downtown one evening on Broadway Street/Wisconsin Avenue, a Milwaukee Police car rode by me slowly. The officer shouted from this passenger side window "NIGGER!" at the top of his lungs. No sense of urgency or concern that I could take note of the license plate. No sense of concern that I would take note of his physical description.
Flash forward a couple of years. I was living downtown off of Lake Michigan. I had developed a tradition of going to the park that overlooks Lake Michigan every Sunday morning to read the paper. Relax and be one with nature....if you will. One morning the tranquility of my respite was interrupted abruptly by two police officers hovering above me. Hands on their waists. "There's no loitering in this area. Get the Hell out of here!" I looked up at them and said I'm not loitering, I live across the street and read the paper in this particular spot every Sunday. What makes you think I am loitering?" They look at one another and roll their eyes. "You live across the street. Yeah right. Show us your drivers license now!" I of course didn't have my wallet on me and explained as much to them. We exchanged words, I threatened to file a complaint against them, they threatened to arrest me.....it wasn't pretty.
Those are my experiences with some of Milwaukee's worst officers.
Here we are in the year 2012, and in this year alone we have made national news for countless cases of abuse by our law officials. Each may I add captured on video. From citizens beaten on the streets of downtown following a car being pulled over. A young man that died in the back seat of a squad car. Inmates dying in jail cells. And now the latest drama which concerns a woman arrested who was beaten in the back of a squad car.
Those unfamiliar with this case need only know this and nothing more.
She was detained in the back seat of a squad car with her hands - cuffed behind her. The video camera inside the squad car captured the officer repeatedly punching her in her face and then dragging her out of the car by her hair. He was fired for his actions and now the police administration has reinstated him to his job as officer. To be on the streets supposedly serving and protecting the same people, one of which he was charged with abusing.
That's it. That's all you need to know.
People are angry and outraged, and they are letting their voices be heard......loudly. Alderman Donovan, never one to hide his racist views, he is now in front of the cameras (his favorite place) voicing his complaints about those that protested the officer being reinstated. He is not taking to the streets and using his 15 minutes of fame to decry the fact a male police officer that has beat up a handcuffed woman, yanked her by her hair and dragged her from a squad car, has been reinstated. No....he is complaining about the fact that "some" of the people that are protesting this were loud and in his words "inappropriate"
Let me say this in regard to the protestors that were chanting at the hearing. They were wrong.
Were their emotions and feelings on this issue justified? A resounding yes. But standing and chanting during a hearing is wrong. And the people that did it, didn't realize it and didn't care. They were overcome by anger AND I am going to also go out on a limb and say they didn't know proper decorum.
The old adage "You can't fight City Hall" is not true. You can.
One of the many lessons that came out of the 2012 Presidential campaign was that there is a huge swath of Americans that are living in a bubble. Completely unaware that the world around them is changing. This is not the America of 1956. Although there are those that believe they can suppress the votes of those of color as they once were allowed to decades ago. They can no longer get away with it. Not just from a legal standpoint, but the very people many tried to deny that right, won't tolerate it and didn't. And I would argue the fact that so many on the right attempted to suppress votes is why Obama and Biden received even more votes than they would have. Another lesson was that the makeup of America is changing. Many that may not like that and would prefer America remain one color, have learned that America is what we have always said it was (but many never really believed) and that is "a quilt of many colors"
The Frank Jude case in which Milwaukee police beat a Black man for no reason other than his race, wasn't the first prominent case that came to light given our long and sad history of dysfunctional law enforcement. But it made history because it was one of the few occasions where the officers involved were actually held to answer for their acts. Some were merely fired and others actually were sent to prison.
Anyone that believes there aren't White police officers that get up for work in the morning, strap on their gun, pin on their shield and step out their front door, off to serve and protect - that just the night before were calling Blacks Niggers, and talking about the "chinks" and "spics" and "faggots" yet somehow leave all their racist bias at home.....are naive. They are racist, bigots, misogynistic and homophobic - and they bring those beliefs with them on the streets. It is why I was called a NIGGER for no other reason than the fact I was walking down the street Black. How dare I. Or why I was told I was in the wrong part of town, just because "my kind" surely can't afford to live in the community I lived in.
This woman who was arrested and beaten in the backseat of a squad car by an officer, deserved better. Being arrested is not the same as being convicted. She had every right to be treated with respect. And this SCUM that sat smugly as tempers flared around him, confident and happy that he had his job back, knows he got away with it. He will do it again and again. He has every right to feel emboldened by this. Why would any of the racist cops be concerned, knowing they will surely get off.
All across Wisconsin stories abound in regard to law enforcement being out of control. Something has to be done. Someone has to step up, look into the departments and start holding people responsible for their acts.
Alderman Donovan, you are a racist pig. This is clear. However, I know others on the Common Council are not. I know our Mayor is not. It is time for our political leaders to grow a backbone and stand up to the Police Chief and the commission. And to the thousands of angry citizens that are lashing out in anger over all of the injustice you are witnessing by the police, let me give you some sound advice. Screams, chants and shouts won't get your point across. People will only view that as noise.
The pen is mightier than the sword.