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Protest Cancelled for Fear of Precipitating Post-Election Riot

McGee Cites “Anger, Rage” in Black Community

by Sonya Jongsma Knauss

6th District aldermanic candidate Mike McGee, Jr., sent out an e-mail yesterday notifying friends and media contacts that his father, referred to in the release as “Commander McGee,” had canceled a scheduled protest of the Journal Sentinel on Thursday, April 1. The e-mail said, in part: “Because of the possibility of a ‘riot’ like environment, Commander Mike McGee agrees that ‘the temperature of the Black Community is near boiling mad,’ and their [sic] exist [sic] a real possibility of riot if Mayor Pratt is not victorious on April 6th, 2004.” When questioned about the language of the e-mail, McGee said he was simply reporting what he sees in the community. He said the “riot” language was based on a discussion on his father’s radio show, Word Warriors, which is broadcast on 860 AM. “I think the climate is there,” McGee said in an interview. “I don’t want to agitate people and have them do that… but I’m just sayin, the climate is there when I go door to door in certain parts of the community.” When asked how prevalent he believes the anger is, McGee estimated that thousands of people feel this way. “I wouldn’t say it’s a monolithic community at all,” he said referring to the black community, “but the vast majority of Pratt supporters, I would really think they’re angry. When I talk to people going door to door that’s what I hear. The political situation is really making people mobilized and more excited about voting.” When asked whether he would take a strong stance discouraging any potential riots, McGee instead talked about the power of the vote. “People just need to go vote. That’s what it comes down to in the end. This is a war. Politics is a war without bloodshed,” he asserted. “This election is our opportunity. My father is trying to convince people, too, that you need to “get violent” at the polls — not with guns or riots. My father calls (votes) paper bullets.” McGee maintains that he is interested in racial harmony. “I definitely would encourage us to build bridges,” he said. “We can work together. That’s the only way that good things are going to happen.” When asked whether it was responsible to put language about riots out in a press release, McGee said his wife questioned him on that as well. But he says, “I didn’t make those comments, I was just reporting it. We do need to talk about the possibilities and be aware of what people are thinking and talking about.” He also stated that his father, notorious for making threats against various white people and organizations while he held the office of alderman, is not officially campaigning for him or Pratt and called off a planned protest of Journal Sentinel offices at Pratt’s request. “I’m sure my father, no matter what happens, will not incite people,” McGee said. “I’m glad he stepped down and didn’t go ahead with the April 1 protest.”
by Sonya Jongsma Knauss