Top

Justice for Jude

juderally.jpg

On February 10, about 100 people gathered to protest the beating of Frank Jude, Jr., a black man who witnesses say was beaten by white off-duty police officers in October 2004. The beating has become a potential powder keg of city race relations and police misconduct after a Journal Sentinel story featured Jude’s beating February 6. Mike McGee, alderman of the 6th District, organized the protest rally outside the State Street Safety Building. “Under Chief Jones there was no ass-whupping like there is now,” McGee said, criticizing Police Chief Nan Hegerty. “We want criminal charges lodged against so-called off-duty police,” he later said. McGee established a theme of racial tension while he had the microphone, calling Jude’s beating a “hate crime” and displaying frustration at the slow pace of District Attorney Michael McCann’s official investigation and the lack of any criminal charges. He questioned why the internal affairs division had not investigated the officers allegedly involved with Jude’s beating, and he criticized the judgment of the Fire and Police Commission. He also displayed frustration with Milwaukee’s criminal justice system in general. “We want the feds involved,” McGee said. “We might as well take our chances with the feds because we know we’re not going to get justice in Milwaukee.” His was not the only view represented, however. While McGee vehemently called for the resignation of Hegerty, McCann, and the officers involved in Jude’s beating, others pointed out that McCann runs mainly unopposed for the DA’s office and has held that post for over 35 years. People should express their dissatisfaction with McCann through the ballot box, argued County Supervisor Toni Clark. “You can say what you want, [but] that’s that man’s job,” said Clark, who was booed when supporting McCann. “I applaud the efforts of Michael McCann because he is trying to get to the bottom of this.” Although the rhetoric was about race — at one point McGee expressed his disgust at seeing a Confederate flag hanging in Bay View, the neighborhood where Jude was beaten — not everyone was convinced racism was the driving force behind Jude’s beating. “To tell the truth, it’s not about race. It’s about class,” said Donielle Berry, who came to the rally “to show support for the brother who got hurt.” Berry said he hopes the rally will initiate steps to get Jude and his family financial compensation for the attack. He fears, though, that the rally will only be a rally, bringing no other positive action. Amid chants of “No justice, no peace” and “When the police attack, we fight back,” McGee argued that how the city handles the aftermath of Jude’s beating will color its reputation nationwide. “This city’s going to be embarrassed if this is not resolved,” he said.
juderally.jpg