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George Floyd BLM muralTerry Wiggins

Black Lives Matter

Mural on Holton Street and North Avenue

The Riverwest Currents will add comments and information about the struggle for justice and fair and equitable treatment for all citizens and residents of our neighborhood, city, state, and country.

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A message from Historic Milwaukee Inc.
Links to Americas Black Holocaust Museum, Wisconsin Black Historical Society below.

The devastating violence and injustice experienced every day by African-Americans, and the brutal death of George Floyd, directly follows from our country’s legacy of slavery and oppression. Milwaukee struggles with issues of systemic racism and segregation.  
Historic Milwaukee’s mission is to educate and raise awareness of Milwaukee’s history, architecture, and neighborhoods. We are committed to developing and sharing programming that highlights the contributions African-Americans have made to our city, and describes the ongoing struggle against inequality and racism. 
We acknowledge our role in this community, and the privilege and opportunity that gives us to contribute to change. We are listening, and we invite feedback as we strive to do better and take meaningful action to dismantle racism and its many devastating consequences.
We invite our audience to learn from and support these Milwaukee institutions, who we have been grateful to partner with on programs like Doors Open: 
America’s Black Holocaust Museum:ABHM builds public awareness of the harmful legacies of slavery in America and promotes racial repair, reconciliation, and healing. The Museum envisions a society that remembers its past in order to shape a better future – a nation undivided by race where every person matters equally. Learn More: https://abhmuseum.org/
Wisconsin Black Historical Society:The mission of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum is to document and preserve the historical heritage of African descent in Wisconsin. The Museum exhibits, collects and disseminates materials depicting this heritage. Serving as a resource center for all people interested in Wisconsin’s rich African American heritage, the Museum’s purpose is to encourage and promote family community and cultural activities. Learn More: http://www.wbhsm.org/
 
The League of Progressive Seniors recognizes the horrible history and persistent oppression of institutional racism in our country and we stand with our fellow citizens in the anti-racism struggle. We call for drastic reform in police funding, training, and oversight and pledge to do what we can where we can to force change – at the local, state, and national levels. We are small but we are all in.
League of Progressive Seniors
Our mailing address is:
League of Progressive Seniors
2111 N. Booth St.
Milwaukee, WI 53212

            
 Call to Action: Racial tension is at a boiling point and cannot be swept under the rug by Milwaukee police 

Editorial 5/29/2018 (Op-Ed)
by Yvonne Ochilo (Twitter: @Ochilolaw)*
facebook (Ochilo Law Offices)
             We can no longer turn a blind eye to racial malice in Milwaukee as exemplified by recent stints. On May 5, 2018, 8 members of the original Black Panthers of Milwaukee called for a boycott of Mayfair Mall after a video of a Wauwatosa police officer emerged showing him pummeling a 17yr old African-American male. The suspect involved was part of a group that was causing a “disturbance.”  Led by King Rick, the Black Panthers demanded that the police officer either be fired or resign while the African-American teen was charged with disorderly conduct, battery and resisting an officer. A more detailed account was documented in Ashley Luthern’s article “Black Panthers call for Mayfair Mall boycott, firing of Tosa officer after viral video shows him punching teen” published 5/13/2018 (Journal Sentinel online).
            Another example of police cruelty occurred in January 2018 involving the deliberate harassment and intimidation of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. Mr. Brown was illegally handcuffed, tased, and booked by Milwaukee police over a parking ticket regardless of his compliance with the officer’s request to show his I.D. Again, the police racially profiled him and assumed he was just another black man on the verge of wreaking havoc. The unnecessary debasement experienced by Mr. Brown and other African-American men who are treated like second class citizens daily is not easily eradicated. Furthermore, it perpetuates the distrust between the public and the police who are meant to serve and protect all citizens, despite race.
            The historic narrative of Milwaukee is that it is scourged by racism and segregation in comparison to any other county in the U.S. There are razor-sharp demarcations based Caucasians, African-Americans, Latinos and other people of color. Residential areas are divided with a majority of blacks living in the inner city, the North-side while their Caucasian counterparts and well-to-do black folk enjoy suburbia. In addition, this disaffection has impacted the employment rate, living standards, fair housing, the public education system, and most importantly civic engagement
            We must acknowledge that racial hostility is at a boiling point and cannot be swept under the rug. The Black Panthers and other prominent civil rights activists like the late Vel Phillips have shed light these injustices in the African American community. However their efforts have either fallen on deaf ears or have been suffocated to maintain a divisive system.          It is critical to note this caveat—not all police are guilty of misusing and/or abusing their power. On the other hand, those that are must be brought to justice, especially in incidents where unarmed black men are shot and/or killed leaving their families saddened, broken, and their communities with a vacuum.
            According to the fourth amendment, law enforcement officials are prohibited from (unnecessarily) invading the privacy of citizens and using “excessive force” in search and seizures during “stops/arrests.” Nonetheless, there must be a renewed “Call to Action.” The onus is ultimately on the African-American community—including business leaders and activists—to rewrite the narrative. Reclaim their heritage. Revitalize their neighborhoods by promoting “neighborhood watch” programs. Revamp entrepreneurship programs geared towards the youth as illustrated by the legacy of Ms. Redonna Rodgers, entrepreneur, advocate, and founder of the Center for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
            In addition, there must be an amplified attempt to encourage AODA programs that assist with drug recovery. Most importantly, the African American community must also turn the tide by denouncing black-on-black crime and gun violence. There should be a stalwart, consistent, and targeted endeavor to hold forums or events that address the effects of racial profiling and provide an opportunity to dialogue and/or reconcile with the local police. For example in South Africa after Apartheid, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and Tribunals were held to air atrocities experienced by the Afrikaans at the hands of the Dutch government.
            Moreover an argument has been made that the police force comprised of approximately 66% Caucasian males and 34% Black and Hispanic officers ought to undergo “diversity training.” (Data is based on the city’s analysis from 2008-2015/Fire and Police Commission records).  For instance, in Minneapolis there are “cultural awareness” programs and resources provided to police officers to ensure fair and impartial policing. In Milwaukee the Chief of Police, Common Council, Fire and Police Commission, elected officials and concerned citizens can work together to embark on instituting an aggressive diversity training program that is measurable thus ensuring accountability. Teenagers and young adults must also be educated on the policies and procedures that to adhere to when stopped by an officer.
            In conclusion, a Call to Action is needed immediately. We should not be living in an environment that is similar to the Jim Crow era. Let us unite. Let there be a new dawn. We must, as Dylan Thomas put it, not “go gently into that good night…but rage, rage against the dying light.” We ought to pledge a formidable effort to spur the winds of change within the police force and in our community, if not for our generation then for our children’s children. We must, in the words of Maya Angelou, still rise—we may “encounter many defeats but we must never be defeated.”